Factories must pay more for top grades, insists expert
Irish beef processors do not adequately reward meat yield in their cattle pricing structure, according to the former Teagasc specialist who carried out much of the research work on which the beef grid is based.
Michael Drennan said the importance of lean meat yield is not fairly reflected in beef carcass prices, and he suggested that the price differentials between grades needed to increase significantly.
“The price paid for carcasses of good conformation (high meat yield) from the suckler herd tend to be inadequate relative to carcasses with lower meat yield,” he claimed.
“It is long accepted by farmers that composition is taken into account in pricing products such as milk, protein and fat content, and grain, moisture content.”
However, Mr Drennan said the same principle was not applied to the pricing of cattle.
“It is worth pointing out that the bone content of a U3 steer carcass would average only 16.8pc, while an O3 would be 21.2pc. The O3 would also have more fat,” he explained.
“As a result, the lean meat content of the steer carcasses in the Grange study were 66kg/100kg for O3s and 73kg/100kg for U3s.
“Based on these studies the price difference between U3s and O3s should be about 45c/kg, whereas in the last year the figure in Ireland was 29c/kg.”