For ending May 27th, the cattle trade remains strong on the back of steady demand coupled with tighter supplies. A further improvement in trade was noted in the UK while little change was reported across the continent.
In general, steers were purchased at a base price of around €4.00/kg to €4.05/kg on the Quality Payment System, while the main base price payable for heifers was making around €4.10/kg to €4.15/kg with selected lots of steers and heifers at the top end of the market achieving around 5 cents more. These prices exclude the 12 cents bonus payable on in-spec QA animals. Prices paid for O grade cull cows were generally in the range between €3.25/kg and €3.40/kg.
Cattle supplies at Irish export meat plants for the week ending May 20th were over 28,000 head which was down 3% on the corresponding week in 2015. For the year to-date, throughput of steers is back 3% with supplies of heifers and cull cows on a par with year previous levels. Supplies of young bulls continue to be over 30% higher so far this year. Overall year to date cattle supply is up 2% or 12,000 head. The latest net production figures from January to April 2016 are showing a 3% rise in production compared to the same period in 2015 due largely to higher supplies.
In Britain, trade has continued to edge upwards this week on the back of increased demand with trade strong for steak cuts. For the week ending May 21st the AHDB reported average prices for R4L grade steers and heifers increased and were making around Stg 328 p/kg. In Euro terms the British steer and heifer price is now equivalent to €4.29/kg, with the Euro currently valued at 76.5p Sterling.
In France, the trade remains slow this week due to the effect of ongoing strikes which are leading to more delays in deliveries. This is in particular affecting produce such as burgers with shorter shelf lives. The recent bad weather has eased demand while difficulties remain in getting imported product into retailers. Beef promotions at retail level were taking place on domestically produced chuck steaks and minced beef. The French R3 young bull price was down 1c at an average of €3.52/kg while the O3 cow price was unchanged at an average of €3.07/kg.
In Italy, little change has been reported in the trade this week. The R3 young bull price was back 5c/kg averaging around €3.80/kg while the O3 cow price was down 3c to €2.56/kg.
In Mercosur, beef exports from Argentina for the first four months of the year are up significantly on 2015 levels with China the main destination in volume terms for Argentinian beef while in value terms Germany has the highest returns. Meanwhile in Brazil, live cattle exports are down by over 35% for the months of March and April 2016 compared to year previous levels with the lower exports linked to the economic situation in Venezuela.
In the US, there has been a rise in the number of cattle on feedlots during the month of April while futures prices for live cattle have eased and stocks of beef in cold storage are back over 6% compared to the same period in 2015. Meanwhile, there has been a renewal of beef trade to South Africa with the restarting of US beef exports there.