Beef Price: ‘There are opportunities for Irish prices to rise further’

“Beef factories are prepared to pay well above quoted prices to get numbers.” This was the message from Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) president, Joe Healy.

He added: “Factories are very anxious for stock and are finding it extremely difficult to get numbers at the current low prices.

“There are very substantial price increases in the big EU markets and this shows that there are major opportunities for Irish prices to rise further.”

What are the factories offering?

This week, factories are currently offering 385-390c/kg for steers; heifer quotes are sitting at a base of 395-400c/kg.

However, similar to previous weeks, some farmers with large numbers of in-spec stock to market, have been receiving prices of 5c/kg above base quotes. At the upper end of the scale, this brings some heifers to 405c/kg.

In addition, there are reports of some farmers receiving more than 405c/kg. However, the numbers slaughtered at these prices are very low in the grand scheme of things.

Cow prices remain steady this week and most buyers are offering 310-320c/kg for P-grade and 325-340c/kg for O-grade animals. R-grade cows are making 340-355c/kg.

Grading system

The aim of the Beef Carcase Classification Scheme is to ensure a common classification standard throughout the European Union. However, Healy commented on the grading systems that are employed by meat processors in Ireland today.

He noted that the number of farmers complaining about the grading system in meat plants is increasing.

Farmers should carefully check their grades and if they are not satisfied contact either the plant or the IFA to have the grades checked.

According to Healy, The IFA has demanded that Department of Agriculture officers are given the responsibility to constantly monitor the carcass trim and the classification of animals in processing plants.

“This is a commitment that must be honoured,” he concluded.

Cattle Supplies

The number of cattle processed in Department of Agriculture approved beef plants during the week ending November 26 stood at 39,826 head – an increase of 545 on the previous week.

Of this, just over 62.3% were steers and heifers. Some 13,976 steers were slaughtered in beef plants that week – a decrease of 984 head. However, heifer throughput climbed by 4.7% to 10,794 head.

Young bull slaughterings also increased (up 1,088 head). Cow and aged bull slaughterings also climbed by 6.6% and 4.9% respectively.

Week-on-week beef kill changes (week ending November 26):
  • Young bulls: 5,540 head (+1,088 head or +21.7%);
  • Bulls: 568 head (+27 head or +4.9%);
  • Steers: 13,976 head (-984 head or -6.5%);
  • Cows: 8,857 head (+555 head or +6.6%);
  • Heifers: 10,794 head (+491 head or +4.7%);
  • Total: 39,735 head (+545 head or +1.4%).

Main markets

According to Bord Bia, the trade in Britain continued to be strong last week. This was mainly due to the high demand for beef leading up to the Christmas period.

In terms of prices, the AHDB ((Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board) reported that R-grade steer quotes increased and averaged 426c/kg for the week ending November 25.

The latest R-grade heifer price averaged 430c/kg, while the Northern Irish price stood at 404c/kg.


Moving to France, Bord Bia reported that the market was challenging due to a slower demand, with an increase in domestic supplies. Competitively priced imported cows negatively impacted the market.

The trade was best for forequarters due to the colder weather, while fillets and cheeks were reported to be a steady trade.

On the other hand, trade for tongues and thick skirts decreased. There were an abundance of retail promotions taking place last week. These focused mainly on domestically-produced mince, steaks and roasting joints.

In terms of prices, the latest R-grade young bull price was steady – making 398c/kg on average. The O-grade cow price decreased by 5c/kg – amounting to 313c/kg.

Meanwhile in Italy, a more buoyant trade was reported on the back of a slight increase in demand. Looking at producer prices, the latest R-grade young bull price averaged 424c/kg, while the O-grading cows made 292c/kg.

In Germany, a relatively stable market was reported by Bord Bia.