It is not in Ireland’s interest to support EU policies that drown trade with UK in red tape
With advertisers turning UK food into a statement of British nationalism, Asda last October implemented a policy of stocking only British beef.
Three months on the UK’s third largest supermarket chain has been forced into an ignominious climb-down as the realities of rising costs have forced them to rethink their purchasing strategy.
According to an Asda spokesperson, UK beef prices have risen by 20pc over the last 12-24 months. Minds were focused by the comparison between UK farm gate prices and their Irish equivalents.
The Agricultural and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) in the UK reported R4L bullocks, for the week ending January 1, as averaging just over €5.00/kg, with R4L heifers making €5.01/kg.
Here at home Department of Agriculture figures show the price of R3 bullocks, including Vat, as averaging €4.55/kg for the same week, with R3 heifers on €4.59/kg.
The return of Irish beef to the shelves of Asda is a very welcome development, but I do wonder if this change of heart had as much to do with the availability of supplies as it does with the cost of those supplies or consumer resistance to price increases.
Or was it simply a case that when Asda looked at consumer demand and weighed it against quality, dependability and speed of supply, as well as the basic economics, the only place that made sense was Ireland?
Adding in Asda’s 15.3pc share of the UK supermarket business to Tesco’s 27.8pc and Sainsbury’s 15.8 pc — both of whom already stock Irish beef — it means Irish processors have exposure to 59.4pc of the UK supermarket trade.
With that sort of potential, the Irish Government need to think carefully how they handle discussions with the UK in relation to what the EU may want when it comes to trade.
It is not in Ireland’s interest to support EU policies that drown trade with our nearest neighbour in red tape.
For Irish producers, it will be very interesting to see how factories attempt to manage the pressure this additional outlet will put on supplies and prices here as 2022 develops.
Not to mention the fact that the Angus bonus goes up to 30c/kg from March 14 for certified Irish Angus members.
In the here and now prices remain steady, with bullocks in general being quoted at €4.25/kg, while heifers are on €4.30-4.35/kg.
That €4.35/kg for heifers is around 5c/kg stronger than last week.
On the cull cow front prices are also steady but with Rs on €3.90/kg and Os €3.60-3.80/kg , depending on quality and flesh, while the better P continues at €3.50-3.60/kg.
Covid remains an issue for both factories and haulage companies, with staff absenteeism contributing to the limiting of processing capacity in some plants again last week.