Beef price: How does Ireland compare with Europe after price cuts?

In recent weeks, beef farmers have been subjected to a series of price cuts from meat processors right across the board. This has resulted in a dramatic reduction in prices achieved on a per head basis and left margins extremely thin.

The latest report from the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) indicates that Irish heifer prices decreased by 18.7c/kg from the week ending June 17 to the week ending July 15. The prices listed below are exclusive of VAT.

Ireland’s R3 heifers have dropped to sixth place in the overall EU standings, compared to fifth place in mid-June. However, Britain progressed to second place, while Northern Ireland has dropped one place to fifth.

According to the LMC – during the week ending July 15 – R3 heifer prices in the Republic of Ireland were 19.2c/kg behind what R3 heifers made in Britain and were on a par with the price achieved in Northern Ireland.

In Ireland, the prices achieved by R3 heifers stood at 402.6c/kg during that week. This is a decrease of 18.7c/kg from the 421.2c/kg paid to Irish farmers during the week ending June 17.

Irish R3 heifer prices stand 16.1c/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 406.4c/kg – a fall of 15.0c/kg on the returns achieved in mid-June, 2018.

The gap between the R3 heifer price in Northern Ireland and the EU average widened by 19.9c/kg during this period.

For the week ending July 15 – in Britain – R3 heifer prices equaled the equivalent of 421.8c/kg. This was a drop of 6.1c/kg from the 427.9c/kg paid during the week ending June 17.

If we take a 300kg heifer carcass – for the week ending July 15 – heifers slaughtered in Italy, Great Britain and Sweden made €129, €126 and €125 (per head), respectively, more than heifers in the Republic of Ireland.

Other European comparisons

France has moved into seventh place in the standings. R3 heifers were 391c/kg during the week ending July 15 – a jump of 2.0c/kg on the previous month’s figures.

Figures from the LMC show that Swedish farmers also received a significant price cut. The R3 heifer price stood at 415.1c/kg (down 15.8c/kg), while Italy progressed to first place with a R3 heifer price of 431.5c/kg.

Moreover, Luxembourg jumped up to fourth place, with an increase in price of 1.8c/kg; R3 heifers made 410.7c/kg here during the week ending July 15.

Spain is ranked in eighth position. Spanish heifer prices fell by 17.2c/kg from the week ending June 17 to the week ending July 15.

Heifers in Germany achieved prices of 375.1c/kg during the week ending July 15.