Most beef farmers will look back on 2022 as a positive year overall for beef prices, despite significant price fluctuation throughout the year.

Factory quotes opened in January 2022 at approximately €4.30/kg on the grid for heifers, with 5c/kg less being quoted for steers.

Fast forward to the last week of May 2022 and factories were quoting as high as €5.35/kg and €5.40/kg on the grid for heifers. This marked an increase of over €1/kg in beef price in less than five months.

Factory quotes then began to gradually decline and bottomed out at the start of November at €4.55/kg on the grid for bullocks (steers).

Coming into the end of December, factory quotes have bounced back to €4.95/kg on the grid with €5.00/kg and above on the grid being paid for steers and heifers in some cases.

Early indications would suggest the upward cattle-price trajectory will continue into 2023 as supplies of finished cattle are predicted to be scarce, for the opening few quarter at least.

Bord Bia beef price review

Commenting on the 2022 beef price, Bord Bia’s beef sector manager Mark Zieg told Agriland: “Throughout 2022, average cattle prices have been well ahead of last year (up 17%).

“However, as figures from Teagasc’s recent beef finishing budgets show, the resulting benefit for farmers was largely offset by rising input costs spanning feed, fertiliser and energy inputs.

“After reaching record levels of €5.32/kg (excluding VAT) in June, the average price of Irish R3 steers fell over the autumn months, before starting to recover in recent weeks.”

The Bord Bia sector manager said: “Movements in the export benchmark within Bord Bia’s Beef Market Tracking indicates the potential for further improvement in the near future, as cattle prices remain firm across UK and EU markets.

“Total cattle throughput is expected to be up 8% this year with availability of finished cattle looks set to tighten in 2023.

“The trend of cattle being processed younger and at lower carcase weights is also expected to carry into next year also which will further impact beef production levels.”