Beef factories’ attempts to talk down the trade are not justified based on the latest market reports, according to IFA national livestock chairman, Brendan Golden. He said the Prime Export Benchmark price for the latest week has increased by 5c/kg, with the Irish price not keeping pace, only increasing by 2c/kg over the same period.
According to Golden, the supermarket price for beef in the UK has strengthened in the past week and sales remain strong.
Beef prices in the UK are “strong and steady”, rising over 7p/kg since the beginning of January. He said that with sterling strengthening by 3% over the same period to 87.5p/€, market conditions for Irish meat factories are “favourable”.
Supplies of finished cattle are tight, while in addition UK production for the year is predicted to contract by 5%, according to the IFA national livestock chairman.
Bullocks and heifers have been bought at €3.80 and €3.85/kg by factories for this week and factory agents remain active in marts sales for finished cattle, he added.
The IFA livestock chairman said the double standards applied by the EU when it comes to trade deals in comparison to the standards imposed on Irish and EU farmers is not helping the situation.
“Our key EU and UK markets continue to be undermined by imports from countries that are not meeting our production standards,” he said.
“The current Prime Export Benchmark price of €3.76/kg, which is based on prices in our key markets, highlights the dysfunction of the EU policy when it comes to beef farmers, an approach that must be stopped. This price is up to 80c/kg below production costs for Irish beef farmers.”
At the IFA AGM last month, Taoiseach Micheál Martin talked about realigning food prices with production costs.
“We must start seeing meaningful action on this front and the first steps must be to reject the Mercosur deal and remove the existing sub-standard imports from the marketplace.”
“In addition, supermarkets have a key role in this and the influence they have been allowed exert in food pricing throughout the EU must be curtailed,” he said.
Beef price up to 80c/kg below cost of production
Brendan Golden said beef farmers continue to produce the highest quality beef to the most exacting standards. He stressed that they are expected to do so for prices that are currently up to 80c/kg below the cost of production.
“This cannot be allowed to continue. Government and the EU institutions have a key role to play through consistency of approach between trade deals and the production standards of Irish and EU farmers,” he said.