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HomeBeefBeef trade: Factory agents 'very active' in marts but no price rise
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Beef trade: Factory agents ‘very active’ in marts but no price rise

An update on beef prices in March 2021

The IFA has urged farmers to reject lower quoted beef prices to maximise returns.

Brendan Golden, IFA national livestock chairman, said steers are making €3.75/kg and heifers are selling from a base of €3.80/kg this week.

He reported that higher deals are being sealed for larger lots with increased breed bonuses available, despite lower quotes from some factories.

“Factory agents are very active in marts for forward store and finished cattle, highlighting the demand that exists for beef.”

Cows are starting at €3.00/kg for P grades and moving to €3.50/kg for better quality R and U grading culls. Meanwhile, young bulls are ranging from €3.60 to €3.85/kg.

Beef prices March 2021

The latest market price information clearly justifies beef price increases, according to IFA president, Tim Cullinan.

He said the Bord Bia Price tracker shows the Prime Export Benchmark price increasing by 4c/kg to €3.80/kg. Meanwhile, the Prime Irish Composite price dropped by 3c/kg to €3.68/kg.

The farm leader described this level of price differential and divergence as “unjustified” and stressed that factory prices must increase.

“Our beef processors must increase prices in line with the positive market conditions that exist for beef as clearly shown in the Export Benchmark Price which reflects the market prices in our key UK and EU markets for beef,” he said.

“Farmers are very angry at the cynical and unjustified price cutting that has gone over the past few weeks,” he said.

Outlook for beef sector in 2021

Golden said market conditions are strong in Ireland key export markets and supplies of finished cattle are “extremely tight”, a trend that is expected to continue.

He referred to Bord Bia’s prediction that the numbers of cattle available for processing to reduce by between 60,000 and 80,000 for the year. Besides, UK supplies of prime cattle are projected to be down 5% for the year.

Sales of beef in supermarkets have performed very well throughout the period of COVID-19 restrictions and is off-setting the loss of the foodservice sector.

He said demand is expected to increase as lockdown restrictions ease with the rollout of the vaccination programmes and the foodservice sector starts to return to normal.

In the intervening period, he added, with Easter just a month away, demand will increase for beef in supermarkets. With supplies remaining tight, this creates “favourable” market conditions, according to Golden.

Meanwhile, the ICSA has called on farmers to hold back cattle from factories were possible and refuse to sell at €3.70/kg.

Edmund Graham, its beef chair, said that there is no reason for farmers to accept current beef prices.

Online meeting

IFA will hold a virtual meeting on Tuesday, March 9th at 8.30 pm for beef farmers.

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