A standoff has developed between some factory agents and producers at the start of the week, as factories try to regain the upper hand in negotiations.

Plants which were freely enough paying a base of €5.15/kg for bullocks and €5.25/kg to €5.30/kg for heifers last week are now trying to ease prices to a base of €5.10/kg and €5.20/kg respectively.

Regular sellers and producers with good negotiating power are continuing to secure the higher quotes, with agents in many cases using talk of lower prices to secure sales when offering 5c/kg extra.

At the top end of the market, there are some reports of €5.20/kg for bullocks and €5.30/kg for heifers, but, in truth, this is not common place.

Bull trade

The bull trade is steady, with numbers following a seasonal decline.

U grading bulls are trading in the main from €5.35/kg to €5.40/kg, with R grading bulls 10c/kg lower.

O grading bulls are trading in a wider differential, ranging from €5.05/kg to €5.25/kg depending on numbers, type and level of finish or weight. Fleshed P grading bulls range from €4.90/kg to €5.10/kg.

Bulls less than 16 months and trading on the grid are moving at a base of €5.10/kg to €5.15/kg.

The tightness in supplies and strong demand for manufacturing beef means that there are no major concerns over carcase weight in most plants.

Cow trade

The cow trade is also benefiting from keen demand for manufacturing beef, with prices resisting any seasonal pressure to date.

Top-quality U and R grading cows have plenty of suitors, with plants active in the wholesale trade especially active. This is pushing prices for young quality cows to in excess of €5/kg, with top prices for U grading cows hitting €5.10/kg to €5.20/kg.

R grades range anywhere from €4.80/kg to €5.50/kg, with plants least active in the cow trade quoting lower, while O+ grading cows range from €4.75/kg to €4.95/kg and back to €4.60/kg for plainer-quality O grades.

The trade is said to be reaping the rewards of higher sales coinciding with the European Football Championships, while higher temperatures in continental Europe are also boosting sales.

Northern trade

Base quotes in plants in Northern Ireland are unchanged. U-3 bullocks and heifers are opening at a range of £4.56/kg to £4.62/kg, but as high as £4.80/kg is being paid where producers have strong bargaining power.

Cows are also benefiting from the firm demand for manufacturing beef with, O+3 grading cows trading from £3.50/kg to upwards of £3.65/kg.