The Australian golfer Adam Scott may have imploded for the last few holes at the Open in Lytham on Sunday but if beef factories get their way, beef prices will also implode.
Telling their loyal suppliers that they were full for days ahead in a week where we had the smallest kill for three years was nothing short of a total disrespect for the beef farming community.
However, those same processors are not backing off and some of them are even quoting as low as 390c/kg for steers this week.
One factory man quoted me 405c/kg base for heifers for the paper and a few minutes later he offered a farmer 410c/kg for heifers and left the farmer thinking that there could be more if it would close the deal.
In any case the quotes for heifers around the country is generally in the range of 405-410c/kg with a few plants down south offering as low as 400c/kg.
Reports suggest that some prices of 415-420c/kg are being got. Steer quotes run from 395-400c/kg.
Again, there are some factories down south quoting 390c/kg.
The best I heard paid for young bulls was 420c/kg for U grades and 410c/kg for the Rs.
Quotes for the Us range from 405-412c/kg with the Rs at 395-400c/kg. Farmers are being quoted between 385-395c/kg for their O grades.
Some finishers with good Friesian bulls have negotiated deals of €4/kg and rumour had it that up to 405c/kg was paid for O grades.
There is also some expectation that if the weather improved and with steers remaining scarce that factories could possibly show an increased effort to source bulls to help secure adequate numbers.
IFA livestock chairman Henry Burns said factories were paying 5-10c/kg over quoted prices to get numbers.
Donegal have paid 388c/kg and 382c/kg for U and R grade cows respectively.
Apart from this, the quotes for the good R grade cows are generally around the 360c/kg mark.
The O grades are making from 340-350c/kg with up to 376c/kg in the northwest.
Quotes for the P+ cows range from 330-350c/kg.
ICSA beef chairman Edmond Phelan said that all the indicators are starting to look positive again for the beef trade, with positive moves afoot by exporters to get cattle moving to Libya, although price will be an issue.
Nonetheless, exports to Libya would have a very positive impact on putting a floor under prices for Friesians over the coming months, according to Mr Phelan.
Bord Bia reported that there was a further weakening in finished cattle prices in Irish meat plants during the week, in spite of tight supplies.
Across our main export destinations, demand remained weak for manufacturing beef, while certain steak cuts, fillets especially, are still a little slower to sell.
Prices quoted for R grade steers under the Quality Payment System were between €4.00-4.08/kg. Quotes for heifers were generally in the range of €4.12-4.20/kg.
These prices exclude the 6c/kg on in-spec Quality Assured stock. Cow prices also eased further in the past week with O grade animals selling between €3.40-3.56/kg.
Cattle supplies to date this year are running almost 16pc or 129,200 head behind last year's levels.
In the UK, the beef trade was reportedly steady as lower supplies matched demand levels. Similar to previous weeks, demand for manufacturing beef remains subdued.
Reported cattle prices from the AHDB for GB R4L grade steers eased slightly to Stg 349.9 pence/kg dw (equivalent to 449c/kg dw) for the week ended 14th July.
On the continent, trade across most of the key markets is still being affected by difficult weather conditions. Consumers in the key export markets are still leaning towards unseasonal product.
In France, Irish steer hinds were making between €5.40-5.78/kg incl VAT. R3 young bulls increased by 1c to €3.96/kg, with O3 cow prices remaining unchanged at €3.53/kg.
In Italy, R3 young bulls are unchanged at €4.13/kg, while O3 cows are making €3.13/kg.
Elsewhere, Swedish beef consumption remains strong, having increased by 3pc in 2011. Swedish self sufficiency is at 56pc and falling.
Ireland is the main supplier with a market share in volume close to 34pc.
Meanwhile, during the first six months of 2012, live cattle exports from Ireland reached just 78,000 head, which is 45pc below the first half of last year, and 65pc compared with 2010.
The value of finished cattle (R3 steers) in Irish meat plants is currently equivalent to 106pc of the average for the EU's main beef producing countries.
- Joe Healy
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