Farm Ireland

Monday 20 November 2017

Beef trade is hotting up ever so slightly

Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

UNLIKE the weather, the factory price for beef is starting to heat up ever so slightly.

Quoted prices are up by 5c/kg on this time last week at €3.70/ kg for bullocks and €3.80/kg for heifers but there may be higher prices to be had. One feeder in the west told me that that if you had a double of in-spec bullocks and heifers mixed, the base price could reach €3.75/kg for the bullocks with the heifers under 320kgs hitting €3.85/kg.

In the south, where the preference is for beef with a little fat on it destined for the British market, I was told that “if a lad had thirty or forty in spec Friesians” then the O grades could be flat priced at €3.65/kg.

In both cases the key phrase is “in spec”, i.e. below 30 months.

Ironically when pressed on a flat price for continental types I was told: “Not at the moment they don’t fit what’s needed”.

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Moving to cows, this week’s quotes while largely similar to last week come with a cautionary note. Official quotes are what they are with Rs on €3.20-3.25kg, Os €3.00-3.10 and P+s €2.90- 2.80/kg, but some factories are reported as “actively seeking cows” and one source told me “they are fit to give more”.

Quotes for bulls see prices levelling up on both sides of the Shannon with bulls up to 24 months quoted at €3.85/kg for Us with Rs on €3.75 and Os €3.65/kg, while the younger under-16 month animal is on a base on the grid of €3.65/kg.

While prices have begun to recover in the run up to Christmas, figures recently released by the Department of Agriculture for the first three quarters of 2016 show just how low we have actually gone in price when compared to the prices now paid across the EU.

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The report shows the Irish beef price above the EU 15 average for long periods this year; at midsummer the Irish price was 50c/kg above both France Germany. However, the report shows that Irish beef production is now the sick man of Europe.

Our average price – excluding VAT – at 353.7c/kg is 15c/kg below the EU average of 368.7c/ kg while we’re a massive 45c/ kg behind the UK’s 399.2c/kg.

The remaining comparisons see Germany 21.1c/kg above us at 374.8c/kg, France 5.3c/ kg ahead at 359c/kg while our nearest neighbour Northern Ireland is 31.7c/kg ahead at 384.8c/kg.

Online Editors