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Beef trade continues to come under pressure

Base quotes for in spec U-3 grading steers and heifers came back by 4p/kg to 324-330p/kg across processing plants in Northern Ireland this week, according to the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC).

The cow trade also came back as anticipated with base quotes for O+3 grading cows ranging from 230-240p/kg this week.

“Quotes are expected to come back further to 316-320p/kg for prime cattle and 224-230p/kg for cows early next week.” the LMC outlined.

Throughput

Prime cattle throughput in NI last week totalled 7,217 head which brings throughput during 2020 to date to 89,607 head.

This is slightly higher than the same period in 2019 when 88,966 prime cattle were processed locally.

Cow throughput in local plants decreased slightly last week to 1,848 head, bringing cow throughput for 2020 to date to 25,181 head – up almost 10% from the 22,920 cows processed in local plants in the first quarter of 2019.

The LMC added that cattle imports to NI for direct slaughter from ROI last week consisted of only one young bull; this brings the total prime cattle imports from ROI in the first quarter of 2020 to 2,426 head, up 77 head from the same period in 2019.

A further two steers and 67 cows were imported from GB for direct slaughter last week. Cattle exports from NI to ROI last week included nine prime cattle and 53 cows, bringing the total prime cattle exports to ROI in the first quarter of 2020 to 111 head, back from 292 head in the same period in 2019.

Prices

“The deadweight trade for prime cattle came under some pressure in NI last week with the average steer price back 0.6p/kg to 330.5p/kg and the R3 steer price back by a similar margin to 338.9p/kg.”

The average heifer price in NI last week was back 1.2p/kg to 332.8p/kg while the R3 heifer price was back 2.6p/kg to 339.6p/kg.

The cow trade firmed in NI last week with the average cow price up by 4p/kg to 240p/kg while the O3 cow price was slightly back by 0.3p/kg to 257.7p/kg.

GB

In GB last week, the average steer price increased by 1.3p/kg to 337p/kg while the R3 steer price increased by 0.7p/kg to 343.2p/kg. This puts the differential in R3 steer price in NI and GB at 4.3p/kg, similar to the same week in 2019 when the differential was 4.6p/kg, the LMC added.

The average heifer price in GB last week was back marginally to 336.6p/kg while the R3 heifer price decreased by 0.8p/kg to 341.4p/kg, putting the differential in R3 heifer prices last week between NI and GB at 1.8p/kg compared to a differential of 6.3p/kg in the same week in 2019.

Meanwhile, the LMC pointed out, the cow trade came under pressure in GB with the O3 cow price back 5.4p/kg to 255.9p/kg last week.

ROI

“The deadweight trade for all types of cattle came under pressure in ROI last week.”

It noted that te R3 steer price decreased by the equivalent of 3.4p/kg to 335.7p/kg with the R3 heifer price decreasing by 3.6p/kg to 338.7p/kg.

“The cow trade also came under pressure in ROI with the O3 cow price back by the equivalent of 9.8p/kg to 259.9p/kg last week.” the LMC concluded.

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