Prices hit by surge in supply of young bulls
A surge in the supply of young bulls to the processors has resulted in a drop of up to €80/hd in recent weeks.
Weekly intake at the factories is now exceeding 6,250/hd and producers are expressing concerns that a repeat of the collapse of 2014 may be on the way for finishers of bull beef.
ICMSA beef chairman Michael Guinan said that the current trend "could be indicative of a return to 2014 levels of bull beef when the market price collapsed and caused substantial losses for the farmers involved".
Joe Burke, Bord Bia said that the price gap between bulls over 16 months of age was accentuates because the younger animals qualify for the QPS bonus.
"At times when young bull and steer supplies are high, demand for older animals at meat plants can be difficult, because beef from over-16 month old bulls is not eligible for our UK retail customers," he said.
He added that low grain prices and increasing volumes of cull cow beef on the market is keeping European young bull producer prices low.
"In contrast to Irish steer beef, young bull beef on Continental markets is often looked upon by customers as more of a commodity," he said.
ICSA president Paddy Kent said farmers are being encouraged to produce more, despite weakened markets.