The beef prices have been further tightened by processors for this week's kill, despite the intake remaining low.
Quoted base prices for steers have been dropped as much as 5 cent/kg, in the third consecutive week of declining prices, bringing the total price cut compared to a month earlier to 25-30 cent.
Heifer prices are holding more stable this week, with the premium over steer prices widening to 15 cent/kg at a number of the factories.
The official price range being quoted as a base for the steers is 390-400 cent/kg (139p-143p/lb).
The factory agents are encountering resistance from farmers at the lower end of the price range, and the general run of prices actually being paid is 305-405 cent/kg, with some reports of 410 cent being negotiated.
Heifer prices are being quoted at a base of 405-410 cent/kg (144p-146p/lb), with 5-8 cent/kg more generally needed to actually buy.
Difficult conditions on farms have aided processors in bringing prices back so early in the season. But the downturn should have bottomed out, for the moment, unless there is further serious deterioration in the weather in the coming weeks.
With supply expected to remain relatively tight, any decent improvement in the weather could lead to a hardening of prices again.
There was an increase of around 1,500 in last week’s kill, at about 24,643 head, but the average price paid is showing a drop of 10 cent/kg compared to the previous week — which confirmed that processors have been effecting their recent price cuts.
Normally it takes up to two weeks before the reduction in quotes shows up in the actual prices, because of advance buying of stock.
The cow trade is also showing the effect of the lower prices, with the actual prices being paid having dropped by 15-20 cent/kg over recent weeks.
The quoted prices have a steadier tone of them for this week at the lower level.
Base prices on offer for O/P grade cows range from 330 to 345 cent/kg (118p-123p/lb), and processors are trying to buy cows within that range. The prices for the heavier quality cows, making R grade, range from 345 to 355 cent/kg, having fallen as much as 45 cent/kg from the peak of the trade.
The trade in the UK is reported to be holding steady, with lower supplies matching demand levels. Similar to previous weeks, demand for manufacturing beef remained subdued over the past week.
Prices for R4L grade steers eased slightly to the equivalent to 472 cent/kg (168p/lb).
On the Continent, the trade across most of the key markets was still being affected by difficult weather conditions over the past week.
Consumers in the key export markets were still leaning towards unseasonal product.
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