British beef prices hold firm despite Brexit concerns
The uncertainty over Brexit has sent tremors through the livestock industry here but cattle prices are holding firm in the UK.
Prices quoted by British beef plants are holding firm at between £3.32/kg and £3.37/kg in England, while 10c/kg was wiped off the price here.
"There has been no decline in British cattle prices since the UK referendum vote, but from an Irish perspective the weakening in the value of sterling will reduce returns for beef exports into our most important market," says Bord Bia's beef expert Joe Burke.
Over recent months, there has been a significant narrowing of the price-gap compared to the past year. The latest recorded prices show the average R3 steer in UK making €4.23/kg, with the equivalent Irish animal at €3.98/kg (excl VAT) - a gap of just 25 cent per kilo.
Mr Burke said that most of the large-scale processors are likely to be hedged against the immediate impact of the currency volatility but will be more exposed to the prevailing exchange rates within four to six weeks.
"Last year 54pc of Ireland's beef exports went into the UK - this year it is slightly lower as the UK has higher volumes of its own beef but we are still likely to see over 50pc of our exports going there," said Mr Burke.
"We've seen an increase in beef exports outside the EU to markets such as Hong Kong, Switzerland and the Philippines. There is optimism that other bigger markets will come on stream for Irish exports to help address the balance as our production increases."
Rory Fanning, managing director of Slaney Meats, says Labour voters in the UK certainly want to be taken care of with a cheap food policy. "The farmer in Britain will come second without any shadow of a doubt," he says. "A lot of work is being done on South American, US or Canadian beef coming in so that they can't pick and choose from the menu such as for steak cuts that are at better prices here," says Mr Fanning.