Farm Ireland

Monday 22 January 2018

Disturbing gap in beef prices

Vast difference between prices paid to Irish suppliers compared to other countries has been slammed by ICMSA

Minister for Agriculture, Marine and Food Simon Coveney
Minister for Agriculture, Marine and Food Simon Coveney

Martin Ryan

The ICMSA has described as "deeply disturbing" recent analysis of international beef price trends over the past three years, which showed Irish producers suffering a disproportionate drop in prices.

The analysis, which was carried out by the ICMSA beef division, examined the trend in Britain, France, Germany, Northern Ireland and the US relative to Ireland for the period 2011-2014.

It revealed a consistent decline in prices being paid to Irish producers relative to the other countries, including the overall EU average.

Compared to the overall EU average, the analysis found that the average Irish price for R3 steer beef was 4c/kg lower in 2011 but was 26c/kg lower this year.

The difference with Northern Ireland has gone from 4c/kg below to 41c/kg below, while compared to Britain the differential went from 14c/kg to 65c/kg.

Simply not acceptable

Irish prices were ahead of the US by 55c/kg in 2011. In 2014, the Irish price is 11c/kg higher than the US.

"It is simply not acceptable to see that the same type of beef can be priced so differently and to find, moreover, that the gap between Irish beef prices and comparable markets is actually widening year on year," said Michael Guinan, chairperson of ICMSA's Livestock Committee.

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"No one seriously disputes the fact that Irish farmers produce the highest quality beef on the market but we're still left with these astonishing and inexplicable differences in prices between Ireland and other EU countries.

"That challenges all logic and is deeply disturbing," he added.

"It is quite clear that there is something fundamentally wrong with the pricing of Irish cattle and what we now have is a race to the bottom.

"Minister (Simon) Coveney can talk up Food Harvest 2020 all he wants but unless he addresses these price differentials it will not happen in the beef sector," Mr Guinan maintained.

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