Meat factories have been called on to reflect the favourable market conditions in the UK in higher prices for cattle.
IFA national livestock chairman, Brendan Golden, said beef in the UK market is strong. He outlined that this will improve further as stocks are built up for the lucrative Christmas trade.
Prices in the UK continue to edge upwards and are now at the equivalent (VAT incl) price of €4.47/kg for R4L steers.
“The higher than expected cattle kill to-date this year in the UK and the ‘lower cattle inventory’ all point towards increased demand in our primary export market for the coming months.” Golden outlined.
Tighter numbers predicted for back-end
Turning to the supply situation here, he said most of the grass cattle have now moved through the system.
With the kill to-date up 47,000 on the same period last year, numbers are predicted to be tight for the back-end.
He noted that it is predicted there will be 50,000 fewer cattle to kill between now and Christmas compared to last year.
Exports to Northern Ireland have performed very strongly this year with numbers up almost 25,000 head on 2019 to nearly 50,000.
“Looking at the breakdown of overall exports, while numbers are down, the exports of finished cattle is up 16,000 head, which impacts directly on slaughter numbers for the remainder of the year.”
‘Dig in’ on price negotiations
Golden said the demand for beef in the UK market, tight domestic supplies and tighter numbers predicted here create a positive environment for factories to maximise returns from the marketplace for Irish beef.
Beef plants, he stressed, have no excuse for allowing the current price gap to continue between Irish and UK prices.
He advised farmers to “dig in” on price negotiations in the knowledge numbers will be tight, and the factories need the cattle to fill the lucrative Christmas orders with supermarkets, which “have seen sales of meat surge throughout the COVID-19 restrictions”.