The beef trade remains in a positive position this week, with finished cattle remaining in tight supply.
Speaking to agents around the country, there are very few farmers with their cattle left in sheds at this stage, with factories relying on the bigger feedlots to shore up supplies for the next few weeks.
These larger finishers remain very active in marts for next-day kill and short-keep cattle. Bullocks continue to be bought at €5.20/kg to €5.25/kg, with a few deals done at €5.30/kg for bigger numbers.
Heifers are moving at €5.30/kg (base price) in the main, with a few loads of heifers also sold at €5.35/kg.
Aberdeen Angus and Hereford cattle are also in demand, with higher bonuses being paid on in-spec cattle for the next few weeks.
Irish Hereford Prime is currently paying 20c/kg on top of base price for Hereford bullocks and heifers, while the Certified Irish Angus Beef Producer Group is paying 30c/kg on in-spec bullocks and heifers.
Factories continue to try to manage the kill, with several factories dropping back to three- and four-day weeks ahead of Easter holidays next week.
The top price in the young bull market is still coming in at €5.40/kg to €5.50/kg for U grades, with €5.30/kg to €5.40/kg on the table for well-fleshed R grades.
P and O grading bulls are being bought at €5.00/kg to €5.10/kg and €5.10/kg to €5.20/kg respectively.
Bulls under 16 months old are being bought at €5.20/kg to €5.30/kg (the base price on the grid).
P3 cows are working off €4.60/kg, with O grading cows coming in at €4.70/kg to 4.80/kg.
R grading cows are generally being quoted at €4.90/kg to €5.00/kg, with U grading cows moving at €5.10/kg to €5.20/kg.
Cows continue to be an exceptional trade in marts, with over €3.00/kg again being paid this week for forward cows.
Any farmer with small numbers of cows is better selling in the mart ring as opposed to the factory route in the current market.
Brazilian beef market
The news that Brazil has regained access to the Chinese market is being seen as positive news within the meat industry.
There was a concern that a prolonged ban on Brazilian beef could redirect some of its exports to Europe, but the likelihood of this happening is now very slim.
China is forecast to require an extra 675,000t beef in 2023, with a high percentage of this extra requirement being filled by South America.