Farm Ireland

Thursday 22 March 2018

Beef export prices vary by as much as €205/hd

Farmers are urged to shop around
Farmers are urged to shop around

Martin Ryan

FARMERS are being urged to 'shop around' to get the best deal with figures showing that prices paid by beef export factories can vary by as much as €205 a head.

Analysis of the prices paid reveal a difference of up to 54c/kg in similar grade steer prices and up to 57c/kg for heifers at the factories delivering the highest returns to suppliers.

This means that beef finishers stand to gain up to €4,000 on a typical load of steers or heifers by dealing with the right processor.

The prices were compiled by the Department of Agriculture at each of the country's 25 beef export factories for the week ending May 23.

ICMSA livestock chairman, Michael Guinan, called on the Department to provide more transparency on factory prices to assist farmers get the best return.

"The Department could further enhance the Beef Pricewatch facility on its website by publishing the range of prices paid by a meat plant for each grade on weekly basis to further enhance the level of price transparency for farmers," he said.

"Farmers also now need to examine the differential between meat plants, with the differential over €200 per head in some cases," he added.

While it may not be practical for farmers to drive long distances to plants, Mr Guinan urged farmers to refer to the Department's Beef Pricewatch website facility for information when negotiating a price with their meat processor.

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Four of the most common grades at the factories were examined for the comparison, U4, R4, R3, and O4 for both steers and heifers.

The figures showed ABP Cahir paid the highest price for U4 at 459c/kg which was 32c/kg more than the lowest price for the grade amounting to a difference of €121.60/hd on a 380kg carcase.

Jennings of Ballinrobe dominated as price leader for R4, R3, and O4 steers paying 31c/kg and 28c/kg more respectively for the R's and 54c/kg more than the lowest price for O4 steers, a difference of €205/hd for the latter.

Jennings usually purchase a high percentage of their stock at a fixed flat price which partly explaining the wide discrepancy for O grade over other processors.

ABP Rathkeale was price leader on U4 heifers at an average of 469c/kg, which was 25c/kg above the lowest price for the grade and also led the field for R3 heifers at an average of 451c/kg. This resulted in a difference of up to 30c/kg between the factories for the grade.

Dunbia Slane were the price leader for R4 heifers at an average of 450c/kg, for which the margin between the factories was 39c/kg, which is equivalent to €140/hd at 360kg carcase.

The prices are the average for the particular grade at the factory and include any bonus payments for schemes such as Quality Assurance or penalties as applied in calculating the gross price paid to suppliers for the week.

The top five positions across the four steer grades analysed were shared by 15 plants.

They included all seven ABP factories, Dawn Meats Charleville and Ballyhaunis, Kepak Athleague and Kilbeggan, Foyle Meats Donegal, Dunbia Slane, Jennings Ballinrobe and Ashbourne Meats.

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