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Cattle Trade & Prices

Cattle Trade & Prices

Cattle & Beef

Throughput: Cattle supplies at export approved meat plants totaled 31,968 head during the week ending June 18, 2022 (Week 24). This is 2,497 head above the corresponding week in 2021 (+9%).

A total of 833,087 cattle have been processed during 2022 to date, an increase of 85,304 head from the corresponding period in 2021 (+11%). This increase in throughput has been driven by an additional 44,670 prime cattle (+8%) and a strong increase in the cow kill by 31,531 head (+20%). The supply forecast for 2022 indicate a recovery in total cattle slaughterings for the year in the region of 100,000 to 110,000 head. Decisions made at individual farm level to counteract the sharp inflation in production costs will ultimately determine the revised figure.

Prime cattle numbers remain tight with strong competition between the processors for those available as numbers of finished cattle begin to narrow.  The Irish R3 steer price remains above the corresponding British steer and European young bull price. Market feedback  suggests that the gap between Irish  prices and those in our markets is resulting in some reduction in demand levels, as buyers seek alternatives.

Prices: In general, producers are being offered a base price on the QPS of between €5.20 and 5.25/kg for steers, with an additional €0.05 to €0.10/kg being paid for heifers. Demand also remains firm for better-quality, well-fleshed cows, and quotes tend to range from €4.65-4.75/kg for P grade cows, to prices of between €4.75 and €4.85/kg for good quality O grade cows, while up to €5.00/kg continues to be paid for quality R grade cows. ​

Consumer demand remains steady, especially for manufacturing beef, however the retail channel is proving more challenging in the face of price increases. Higher prices are posing difficulty for many consumers who are facing inflationary pressures on their household expenditure across the board and this has led some of our European customers to put a greater focus on other proteins such as pigmeat and poultry, which remain more competitive in price terms. This has also curtailed promotional activity which typically creates higher demand for Irish beef across our markets.

The average reported R3 steer price fell slightly for the week ending June 18, 2022, by 2c/kg on the previous week to reach  €5.28/kg. Heifer prices fell this week by 1c/kg to €5.33/kg on the previous week. In the corresponding week in 2021, the R3 steer and heifer price were €4.17/kg and €4.20/kg, respectfully. This places the Irish R3 steer price last week €1.11/kg or 27% higher than during the same week in 2021 while the R3 heifer price was €1.13/kg or 27% higher than the corresponding week in 2021. While this is a strong increase in the beef price year on year the increased returns are being eroded by higher input costs at farm level.

Note that reported prices exclude VAT but include all bonuses such as for breed-based producer groups.

World prices: For the week ending June 18, 2022 average R3 young bull prices in the EU have experienced falls in prices over the last number of weeks, and fell by a further by 12c/kg the week of June 18, 2022 to €4.87/kg (excluding VAT). The latest reported Irish R3 steers has crept up to surpass this figure at €5.28/kg. The UK R3 steer increased marginally last week by 3c/kg, equating to €5.24/kg, which also lies beneath Irish R3 steer prices.

Composite prices: The Irish prime composite cattle price and the prime Export Benchmark for week ending June 18, 2022 were equivalent to €5.26kg and €5.05/kg deadweight respectfully. These exclude VAT.

The Irish Composite prime cattle price for week ending June 18, 2022 was €5.26/kg deadweight excluding VAT, compared with the EU export benchmark (excluding UK) of €5.01/kg.

Live Exports

The live export trade has remained firm with total cattle exports in 2022 running 10 per cent ahead of 2021 levels at 200,849 head. Calves continue to dominate the live export trade with more than 3,000 calves exported last week. This takes calf exports for the year to date to 158,301 head, almost a 20% increase on 2021 levels. The Netherlands has been the stand out market for calves this year with just over 87,000 calves exported to the region in the first five months of 2022. This accounts for 60% of all Irish calf exports and is a notable increase from the same period last year. Spain has remained an important market for Irish calves with over 51,000 calves exported so far this year although this is about 10,000 head lower than 2021 levels.  Smaller numbers of calves have also been exported to Italy, Northern Ireland, Poland, Belgium and Hungary this year.

Exports of weanling cattle continue to operate ahead of previous years, driven by the increase in cattle being exported to third country markets. Meanwhile the number of store and adult cattle being exported continues to trend behind previous years, mostly due to a fall in cattle exports to Northern Ireland. With cattle slaughterings continuing to operate very strongly in Northern Ireland and with reduced cattle availability at farm level there may be an increase in demand for Irish cattle in the second half of this year.

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