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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnanehttps://www.thatsfarming.com/
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 supplies ‘tight’ with 40k fewer cattle available between now and Christmas

Beef Prices October 2021

Favourable and strengthening market conditions should be coming through in higher beef prices.

That is according to IFA livestock chairman, Brendan Golden, who reported that supplies of finished cattle are tight.

Beef prices October 2021

He said factories are “actively “offering various deals to secure numbers while “trying to hold back” on base price increases.

“The current base prices for steers and heifers of €4.20/kg and €4.25/kg, respectively, are lagging behind market returns and must move on.”

Golden outlined that demand for cull cows is “steady.” He added that P grades are still commanding €3.60/kg in some plants, and better-grading R and U grade cows are making up to €4.00/kg.


The kill to date this year is 70,000 down on 2020. Therefore, he said there will be 40,000 fewer cattle available to factories between now and Christmas based on the Bord Bia supply predictions for the year.

“UK beef production is currently 4% below last year’s levels, a trend that is forecast to continue for the remainder of the year. This in, turn, increases demand for Irish beef in this key market over the coming months.”

Furthermore, he pointed out that EU prices have risen by 10c/kg over the past two weeks.

When combined with the strong, steady beef prices in the UK, this has now pushed the Prime Export Benchmark price 5c/kg above the prime Irish composite price to €4.16/kg, compared to the Irish price of €4.11/kg.

“These strengthening market conditions must be reflected in price increases from factories. With supplies not matching demand, farmers should sell hard to push prices on.”

The IFA livestock chairman said exports to Northern Ireland have experienced a strong increase since the beginning of the year, reaching almost 60,000 head to date.

This is almost 30% higher than the corresponding period in 2020. He added that this demand is expected to continue for the remainder of 2020, offering “vital” competition for forward-store and finished cattle.

Cattle exports

Overall, he added, there were 218,360 cattle exported to date this year, a small decline from the 222,456 cattle exported in the same period in 2020.

Golden said the positive market conditions created by the reduced volumes of South American beef imports in Ireland’s key markets must be maximised and returned to farmers in higher beef prices.

Break-even price of €5.00/kg

Concluding, he pointed to Teagasc’s beef budgets which “clearly” show the target for beef prices must be €5.00/kg to cover the continuous increase in production costs.

“Factories must stand firm with the large retailers to ensure beef prices keep pace with the production cost increases farmers have to endure,” he concluded.

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