Beef price: How do Irish heifer prices fair against other countries in Europe?

During the summer months, Irish beef farmers have been subjected to a series of price cuts from meat processors right across the board.

This resulted in a dramatic reduction in prices achieved on a per head basis and left margins extremely thin during an extremely hard time as Ireland was gripped by a severe drought.

During that time, a Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) report outlined that Irish heifer prices decreased by 18.7c/kg from the week ending June 17 to the week ending July 15.

Ireland’s R3 heifers have remained in sixth place in the overall EU standings. However, Britain has dropped to third place, while Northern Ireland comes in fifth position. The prices listed below are exclusive of VAT.

According to the LMC – during the week ending August 19 – R3 heifer prices in the Republic of Ireland were 14.5c/kg behind what R3 heifers made in Britain and 4.3c/kg behind the price achieved in Northern Ireland.

In Ireland, the prices achieved by R3 heifers stood at 394.4c/kg during that week. This is a decrease of 2.3c/kg from the 396.7c/kg paid to Irish farmers during the week ending July 22.

Irish R3 heifer prices stand 15.8c/kg higher than the EU average (for this period), figures from the LMC show.

In Northern Ireland, the R3 heifer price was the equivalent of 398.7c/kg – a fall of 3.2c/kg on the returns achieved in July, 2018.

The gap between the R3 heifer price in Northern Ireland and the EU average widened by 20.1c/kg during this period.

For the week ending August 19 – in Britain – R3 heifer prices equalled the equivalent of 408.9c/kg. This was a drop of 6.7c/kg from the 415.6c/kg paid during the week ending July 22.

If we take a 310kg heifer carcass – for the week ending August 19 – heifers slaughtered in Italy, Great Britain and Northern Ireland made €136, €126 and €123 (per head), respectively more than heifers in the Republic of Ireland.

Other EU countries

France has stayed in seventh place in the standings. R3 heifers were 392c/kg during the week ending August 22 – a jump of 1.0c/kg on the previous month’s figures.

Figures from the LMC show that Swedish farmers received a price increase. The R3 heifer price stood at 412.4c/kg (up 3.4c/kg), while Italy also stayed in first position with a price of 441.1c/kg – an increase of 14.8c/kg.

Moreover, Luxembourg remains in fourth place, with a decrease in price of 3.4c/kg; R3 heifers made 404.9c/kg here during the week ending August 19.

Spain is ranked in ninth position. Spanish heifer prices fell by 26.5c/kg from the week ending July 22 to the week ending August 19.

Heifers in Germany achieved prices of 360.4c/kg during the week ending August 19.