Farm Ireland

Thursday 23 November 2017

Turkey set to take 18,000 head over next three months

IFA President Joe Healy Photo: Frank Mc Grath
IFA President Joe Healy Photo: Frank Mc Grath
Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

Turkey could take up to 18,000 cattle by the end of the year, industry sources have told the Farming Independent.

The first shipment of stock is due to sail this week, and insiders in the trade expect the Middle Eastern outlet to take a steady stream of cattle during the busy autumn and early winter period.

The ship, the Atlantic M, has been inspected by the Department of Agriculture officials and the loading of livestock was to follow that process.

This week's shipment comprises heavy bulls of 500-600kg. These are mainly continental but it is understood that some Hereford and Angus were included.

However, buyers for the exporter, Viastar, are believed to be concentrating on lighter weanlings for upcoming shipments, with around €2.20/kg being paid.

'Live cattle shipments a boost for farmers'

IFA president Joe Healy said the commencement of live shipments to Turkey was a boost for farmers as they headed into the main mart sales for weanling and store cattle.

"It is very important that this trade is developed and expanded to take full advantage of the opportunities in the Turkish market," Healy said.

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Over €7.50/kg is being paid in Turkey for top-quality beef and it is now one of the most expensive markets in the world. It has an import requirement for 400,000 cattle.

Meanwhile, cattle finishers will need a minimum of €4.44/kg for steers and €4.61/kg for heifers to break even this winter.

This week factories were paying €3.75/kg for steers and €3.85/kg for heifers.

Figures produced by Teagasc beef specialist Aidan Murray show that winter finishers will need a massive lift in factory prices to cover costs.

Mr Murray pointed out that the total costs for a typical 530kg store bullock finished over 140 days was €1,655.

This included a purchase price of €1,251 (€2.36/kg), as well as fixed and variable costs of €329 and €85 respectively. The full amount of €1,655 equated to €4.44/kg on a 375kg carcass.


The equivalent prices for heifers and light bulls were €4.61/kg and €4.05/kg - the light bull figure is based on a finished carcass weight of 346kg, and a purchase price of €813 for the 320kg animal.

Reacting to the findings, IFA president Joe Healy accused processors and retailers of short-changing farmers and misleading consumers over the unfair share out of the price in the supply chain.

"Retailers are guilty of using farmer profiles to market our top quality beef to consumers, pretending they are returning a fair price to the farmer.

"However, the reality is retailers are turning their backs on farmers by allowing processors to drive down prices to unsustainable loss-making levels," Mr Healy said.

The IFA leader pointed out that since May 1 factories had cut beef prices from €4.10/kg back to their current quoted base price of €3.75/kg.

He said that with average Irish retail prices for beef at €8.92/kg, retailers and processors had plenty of margin to give producers a sustainable return.

Indo Farming