IFA national livestock chairman, Brendan Golden, has said attempts by factories to undermine the trade with lower beef prices are unjustified and are “meeting very strong resistance from farmers selling cattle”.
He outlined market conditions for beef remain strong, as the Export Benchmark Price of €3.77/kg continues to edge upwards, reflecting beef prices in Ireland’s key export markets.
Golden referred to the latest published supermarket sales of beef in the UK, to the end of January, which shows continued growth for beef sales both in terms of volume and price.
The spend on beef in supermarkets for the 12-week period to the January 24th, year-on-year increased by 15.8%, and volume increased by 13%.
According to Golden, these increases, combined with sterling strengthening, create “favourable” market conditions for beef.
80,000 fewer cattle
He revealed that supplies of suitable cattle are tight. When last week’s kill is corrected for finished cattle, he added, the kill stood at 29,780 head, which is over 7,000 fewer than the corresponding week in 2020. The corrected kill to-date is almost 19,000 below the same period last year.
Tight supplies of cattle are predicted for the year. Irish throughput is projected to be back by up to 80,000 head for the year, and UK finished cattle numbers are expected to reduce by 5% compared to last year.
Beef prices in Ireland this week
He outlined that, in general, prices are continuing at €3.75 to €3.80/kg for bullocks and heifers, despite some factories quoting lower prices.
According to the IFA national livestock chairman, some farmers are securing prices above these levels as factories compete for the limited supplies of suitable cattle that are available.
The cow trade in the main is steady, starting at €2.90/kg for P grades, with most moving into €3/kg and higher on flat deals with O grades.
Factories are quoting between €3.00-€3.15/kg for O grades with R and U grades from €3.30 to €3.50/kg, in general, with some higher prices.
Meanwhile, R and U grade young bulls are making from €3.60 to €3.80/kg. Demand from factory agents in marts for all types of finished cattle is strong.
“In our meeting with MII last week, we left the meat industry representative body in doubt that the attempts by factories to undermine the market conditions is unjustified and unacceptable.”
“Winter finishers have the highest cost of production sector in beef farming and are experiencing continual input cost increases, and beef prices must reflect these facts,” the IFA national livestock chairman concluded.