Beef prices in Northern Ireland are continuing their upward trend.
Base quotes for U-3 grading prime cattle ranged from 360- 368p/kg in Northern Ireland this week, according to the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC).
Quotes are expected to range from 362-370p/kg early next week, the commission noted. This week last year, major processors were quoting 326-334p/kg for in-spec U-3 grading steers and heifers.
The cow trade is “holding steady” with quotes from the local plants ranging from 240-265p/kg for good quality O+3s.
The majority of local processors are quoting in the region of 250-265p/kg with quotes expected to range from 240-268p/kg early next week, according to the LMC.
Due to Christmas and New Year holidays, there was a reduced cattle kill last week with 4,688 prime cattle processed.
This brings the total prime cattle throughput for 2020 to 345,640 head, a marginal increase from 2019 levels when 344,671 prime cattle were processed locally.
This slight increase in prime cattle throughput has coincided with an increase in average carcase weights.
During 2020, the average prime cattle carcase weight was 345.7kg, up 2.2kg from 2019 levels.
The cow kill in local plants last week was 1,045 head which takes total throughput for 2020 to 104,506 head. This is an increase of 5,185 head or five per cent from 2019 levels.
Furthermore, there has also been an increase in the average cow carcase weight in NI during 2020 with the average cow carcase weight up 4.8kg to 312.6kg from 307.8kg in 2019, a 1.6 per cent increase year-on-year.
Northern Ireland beef prices
“The deadweight trade for prime cattle continued to firm in NI last week with an R3 steer price of 380p/kg, up 1.8p/kg from the previous week.”
“This brings the R3 steer price to its highest recorded level since July 2013 and puts it 3p/kg higher than the GB R3 steer price.”
The R3 heifer price followed a similar trend in NI last week, increasing by almost a penny to 378.5p/kg. This brings the R3 heifer price to its highest recorded level since October 2013 and puts it at a penny higher than the GB R3 heifer price of 377.5p/kg.
There was a small price reported kill of young bulls in NI last week with the R3 young bull price back 1.8p/kg from the previous week to 366.7p/kg.
The deadweight cow trade last week has also reported stronger prices in NI with the average cow price increasing by 7.3p/kg to 257.9p/kg from the previous week.
Meanwhile, the O3 cow price in NI reported an increase of 4.2p/kg to 276.6p/kg last week. The O3 cow price in NI remains higher than all the regions in GB last week and is 17.5p/kg above the average GB O3 cow price of 259.1p/kg.
€150/head price gap
The R3 steer price in ROI last week was the equivalent of 342.4p/kg. This is 37.6p/kg behind the equivalent price in NI, which puts the differential in the value of a 350kg carcase at £132, the LMC noted.
The R3 heifer price in ROI last week was the equivalent of 346.8p/kg which was 31.7p/kg behind the equivalent price in NI.
This puts the differential on a 320kg heifer carcase between the two regions at £101.
Meanwhile, the O3 cow price in ROI last week recorded an increase of 2.2p/kg to the equivalent of 268.2p/kg, 8.4p/kg below the O3 cow price in NI.