Making sense of Irish beef factory prices

The Beef Summit chaired by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney in April highlighted the need for greater price transparency and information. We share this sentiment at Agriland. In recent weeks, we have been exploring possibilities for presenting a more inclusive overview of pricing for all export factories, without overwhelming readers huge volumes of data.

The initial results of this endeavour you will see in the charts below and are based on all available information to farmers. We have published the full pricing grid based on national average prices quoted by grade. However, for the 24 individual factories we have taken a different approach. Instead of printing their pricing grids we have created an easy to use colour coded graphic which shows:

  • If the average price quoted for that factory an individual grade was above the national average, the grade on the grid is shaded in a blue colour.
  • However, if the price listed was below the national average for that grade, we have shaded the grid with a red colour.
  • To round it all off, we have also selected the top-100 quoted prices across all 24 plants and highlighted them in green.

From these graphs farmers may begin to see:

  • Certain beef factories have a clear preference for one type of stock,(e.g. steers, heifers, cows), over others.
  • Different factories in the same geographic regions are quoting different farmers, so it pays to shop around.
  • Farmers may also get a picture of the grade preferences that buyers have at individual plants.

Insofar as these graphs help farmers gain a greater insight into pricing activity across the country, these diagrams also raise questions, such as:

  • There seems to be a lack of pricing consistency across grades within individual plants. This suggests scope for individual farmers to negotiate a better deal with different factory buyers.
  • Other examples include factories paying R3= prices that match some of the best prices in the country, while at the same time all the other R3 grades quoted for the same animal type we below the national average for their respective grades (price differences as high as 41¢ per kg we noted across the different R3 grades alone at one individual factory).

One could speculate as to why these differences are occurring. In the meantime, we encourage all livestock farmers to take a look at the graphs below. Please send us your feedback if you feel there is other beef market information you would like to see on a weekly basis.

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