The number of beef cattle processed at Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) factories has fallen for the second consecutive week.

However, the week-on-week throughput still remains above last year’s levels, with just over 32,000 cattle processed in the week ending May 29, as opposed to just over 31,000 in the same week last year.

The overall throughput of cattle to date is running just over 74,000 cattle ahead of the same time period last year (excluding veal).

Bord Bia has forecasted this year’s beef kill to be somewhere in the region of 90,000 cattle ahead of last year. Strong increases have been seen in the numbers of cows, heifers and steers processed this year.

Cows, heifers and steers

To date, a total of 263,794 steers have been processed this year, up 28,865 steers on last year.

The heifer kill now stands at 211,741, according to DAFM figures, which is up 16,895 heifers on the same time period last year.

The number of cows processed this year is now 161,898 head. This figure is up 25,718 cows on last year’s throughput.

According to Bord Bia, there are signs of further improvement in the beef trade with upward movement in the base quotes from meat plants seen again in recent weeks.

Exceptionally strong prices/kg are being recorded for all categories of beef cattle this year.

These soaring prices are a result of tightened supplies married with high demand of finished animals, as well as strong market conditions across Europe and the UK.

Bord Bia has said that consumer demand remains good in general, although the Irish food board noted that the retail channel is proving “more challenging in the face of price increases”.

Despite this, the wider reopening of food services continues to drive strong volumes of beef.

In the coming weeks it remains to be seen if prices will continue to rise or if cattle price will start to plateau.

Supply related price increases are generally more short term in nature, compared to demand-led price increases, but with demand expected to remain firm, cattle price appears fairly positive for now.