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‘Factories willing to pay more at marts for cattle than they are to direct suppliers’

The chairperson of ICMSA’s livestock committee has said that he had “no doubt” that factories should be paying more than they are at present for cattle.

As of May 1st, 2020, the number of male cattle over 12 months of age is 68,000 fewer than May 1st, 2019 and in the case of heifers, 25,000 fewer. 

On this basis, he added, the number of finished cattle will tighten going forward. 

“In total, this is 93,000 fewer cattle over 12 months of age for the rest of this year. Markets have recovered from the Covid shock, demand is stronger, and supplies will be tighter for the rest of this year”, Morrison added.

40c/kg or €150/head ahead 

Morrison said that in the UK, beef prices are reported to have surged over the last few weeks due to increased retail demand with prices now 40c/kg or €150/head above Irish prices.

“That kind of differential cannot simply be explained away by the usual excuses from meat plants.”

Demand, he added, is increasing strongly at retail level and, as the food-services side re-opens and starts ‘going through the gears’, there is strong reason for optimism.   

“Northern Irish and British prices are significantly ahead of ours and factory agents are paying more for finished cattle at the marts than farmers would be able to get if they went direct to the factories with those same cattle.”

“Factories are willing to pay more at marts for cattle than they are to their direct suppliers and this simply needs to change by bringing beef quotes up to the market level.”

Match ‘PR speak with actions’

“This current practice makes a laugh of the factories PR speak about building relationships with suppliers and it is no wonder there is such a lack of confidence in the current relationship”, stressed Morrison.

The farm group has said it has no doubt that factory prices could go up substantially.

“The meat plants need to match their PR speak with actions because the evidence supports us, and beef prices should be increased immediately.” concluded Morrison.

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