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Cattle Trade & Prices

Cattle Trade & Prices

Cattle & Beef

Cattle supplies at export meat plants totaled 26,911 head during the week ended May 16th 2020, which represented another increase of nearly 1,000 animals on the week previous, but a decrease of 5,940 on the equivalent week last year.

A total of 666,738 cattle have been processed up to the week ending May 16th 2020. This figure now represents a decline of over 31,000 head on the corresponding period in 2019. This is a 4.5% decrease in throughput for 2020.

The base prices being offered for prime cattle in Ireland have seen further positive changes in the past week. As a result, R3 steers quotes increased to €3.55-€3.60/kg with R3 heifers receiving quotes of €0.05-€0.10/kg above steer quotes. These prices exclude “in-spec” bonus payments. The average price paid for R3 steers for the year to-date in 2020 is €3.58/kg excl. VAT, which is now 10c/kg below the same period in 2019.

The foodservice and manufacturing channels have been severely impacted as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. However news that some foodservice chains are re-opened in a “take away” capacity have seen cow prices lift again by 10c/kg in the past week. Quotes for O grade cull cows are now generally in the range from €2.90-€3.00/kg, with R grade cows receiving quotes of €3.20/kg.

The average prices paid for prime cattle for week ending May 16th 2020, as recorded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, were €3.55/kg for R3 steers, and €3.59/kg for R3 heifers. Note that these prices exclude VAT but would include all bonuses such as for breed-based producer groups.

For week ending May 16th, average prices paid in Northern Ireland received a 7p/kg boost, with R3 steer prices are now averaging £3.37/kg, whilst R3 heifer prices are averaging £3.40/kg. These prices were equivalent to €3.77/kg and €3.80/kg respectively excluding VAT.
Prices paid for R3 steers in Britain saw a similar increases during the same week, with steers & heifers averaging £3.36/kg. In euro terms, these prices were equivalent to €3.76/kg excluding VAT.

Across Europe, average R3 young bull prices are equivalent to €3.42/kg excluding VAT, which is 13c/kg below the average Irish R3 steer price.

The Irish composite cattle price for week ending 16th May was €3.32/kg deadweight excluding VAT, compared with the Export benchmark price of €3.28/kg

Live Exports

For the week ending May 16th, live cattle exports reached 5,001 animals according to the latest figures published by the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine. Out of this total, intra-community trade of calves accounted for 80% of live exports. Spain continues to be the most important market for calves currently, importing over 2,500 head. Other smaller quantities of calves were sent to Northern Ireland (612), Netherlands (181), Italy (549) and Poland (250). Calf exports to the Netherlands have been severely disrupted due to Covid-19. All markets are reporting reduced demand for calves, as the trade for finished animals for beef and veal has also deteriorated. So far in 2020, a total of 149,978 cattle were sent for live export. This represents a 23% decline in exports compared to the same period in 2019.

Meanwhile, there has been some recovery in exports of live cattle to international markets. For the year to-date, shipments to non-EU markets have increased by 52%, to 11,800 head. This trade has focused mainly on the Libyan market (7,600 head), followed by Turkey (2,900 head) and Algeria (1,100 head).

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