Beef prices catching up with Britain
A sharp fall in the differential between Irish and British factory prices has been reflected in a significant reduction in the live export of finished stock.
According to the latest Department of Agriculture figures, the number of heavy cattle going north of the border for slaughter has fallen by more than a third compared to the same period last year.
The difference between Irish and British cattle quotes has almost halved since late last year. Producers are now being paid up to 5c/kg more for some individual grades than comparable cattle in Britain.
In contrast, Irish prices trailed those in Britain by as much as 32c/kg at one point in 2010, according to official prices compiled by the Department and adjusted for currency changes.
Some cattle are now worth close to €20/hd more to slaughter in the South, than those exported to Northern Ireland or Britain.
In 2010, finishers selling plainer stock to the Irish plants were receiving up to €120/hd less than their British counterparts for a similar weight and grade of animal.
Last November, the Farming Independent reported that the differential in Irish and British prices could cost producers of O grade animals up to €30m per annum.
Official figures for 2010 show that Irish beef producers received 18c/kg less on average for R4 heifers than their British counterparts. In 2011, Irish producers have received 5c/kg more than the average British price -- this represents an improvement of €70/hd on a 300kg carcass.