“A mixed performance” were the words the LMC (Livestock and Meat Commission) used when reporting on the beef trade in Northern Ireland this week.
According to the commission, factories quoted base prices of 384-394p/kg for in-spec U-3 grade prime cattle across plants this week.
Quotes for good quality O+3 grade cows ranged from 280-302p/kg this week, with the majority of the plants quoting 290-302p/kg.
However, the LMC pointed out that factories are expected to decrease these quotes to 280-300p/kg next week.
Beef trade (prices) in Northern Ireland
The average NI steer price increased by 0.7p/kg to 391.3p/kg, with the R3 steer price up 1.4p/kg to 401.1p/kg.
Furthermore, the average heifer price in NI last week was 392.9p/kg, back 2.1p/kg from the previous week. The R3 heifer price was back 0.1p/kg to 401.8p/kg.
The average young bull price in NI fell by 0.7p/kg to 383.1p/kg, while the R3 young bull price was up 0.6p/kg to 393.0p/kg.
Lastly, the average cow price in NI fell slightly this week to 290.0p/kg, back 0.3p/kg from the previous week, while the O3 cow price was up 0.6p/kg to 315.8p/kg.
The commission pointed out that prime cattle throughput in local plants last week totalled 7,099 head. This was an increase of 223 on the 6,876 cattle processed the previous week.
This is also an increase from the corresponding week in 2020 when 6,372 cattle were processed locally.
In NI last week, the number of cows plants processed decreased slightly by 10 head to 2,334. However, this is up 334 cows from the same week last year when cow throughput totalled 2,000 head.
Exports and imports
Imports for ROI for direct slaughter in local plants last week increased to 514 prime cattle and 153 cows with no cattle imported from GB for direct slaughter locally.
Meanwhile, exports from NI to ROI consisted of 6 prime cattle and 89 cows. Besides, a further 32 prime cattle and 7 cows made the journey to GB for direct slaughter.
Great Britain beef prices:
On the other hand, the LMC reported that the average GB steer price rose by 0.5p/kg to 409.7p/kg.
The average R3 steer price increased to 415.2p/kg, up 0.3p/kg from the previous week. “This places the R3 steer price at 14.1p/kg above the equivalent price in NI.”
The average heifer price in GB last week “increased slightly” to 409.0p/kg, up 0.8p/kg from the previous week.
However, the R3 heifer price decreased to 415.3p/kg, down 0.3p/kg. “This puts the R3 heifer price in GB 13.5p/kg above NI levels.”
Meanwhile, the average cow price in GB fell by 1.4p/kg to 293.3p/kg, while the O3 cow price was back 1.9p/kg to 318.8p/kg.
ROI beef quotes
“In ROI last week, the deadweight cattle prices remained under pressure. The R3 steer price was back 2.2p/kg to the equivalent of 358.1p/kg, putting the differential between ROI and NI to 43.0p/kg.”
“This equates to an additional £151 on a 350kg steer carcass. The R3 heifer price also decreased to 361.0p/kg, down 1.6p/kg from the previous week.”
Meanwhile, the O3 cow price in ROI increased 1.1p/kg to the equivalent of 298.1p/kg, 17.7p/kg below the O3 cow price in NI.
Earlier this week, the IFA’s Brendan Golden urged farmers to ignore the “unjustified negative commentary” from some factories and their agents and sell hard when cattle are fit to move to maintain control of the supply-demand balance.