According to Mark Zieg, Bord Bia beef sector manager, finished cattle prices at Irish meat plants have been “steady” in recent weeks.
He reports that R3 steers averaged €4.79/kg (excl VAT) for the week ending September 4th, an increase from €4.17/kg during the corresponding week in 2022.
For the year-to-date, he says that Irish R3 steer prices are running 19% ahead of 2021 levels, at €4.76/kg (excl VAT).
By comparison, in the UK, R3 steer prices have averaged €5.11/kg here-to-fore, while the average EU R3 young bull price was €4.91/kg for the first eight months of 2022.
He tells That’s Farming editor, Catherina Cunnane:
“Over recent months, demand for beef experienced some downward pressure across European markets as consumers adjusted to increases in the cost of living.”
“However, the weaker demand for higher-value steak cuts has been partially offset by a very strong forequarter beef trade, especially for manufacturing product.”
He says that 1.205 million head of cattle have been processed to date in 2022, an increase of 96,000 head (8.7%) on the same period last year.
“This increase in supply has been driven by higher availability of all categories of animals.”
“Most notably, cow throughput has risen by 15.5% (36,000 head). A significant majority of these additional cows have been from the dairy herd, as opposed to cull suckler cows.”
“Prime cattle categories (steers, heifers and young bulls) are each running at 6% above 2021 levels,” he says.
He reports that supply forecasts to the year-end, taking the latest trends into account from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s Animal Identification and Movements System (AIMS), suggest that overall throughput for 2022 will rise by 110,000 to 120,000 head on 2021 levels.
He continues: “With the significant increase in winter finishing costs and tighter fodder supplies, it is likely that some beef producers will opt to market animals earlier than usual.”
“The impact of higher cattle slaughterings is being partially offset by lighter carcase weights.”
“On average, steer carcases have been 5kg lighter so far in 2022, at 348kg, while cow carcase weights have fallen by 9kg to an average of 302kg,” he concludes.
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