Beef prices have taken a knock this week with many processors dropping quotes by 5-10c/kg to a base price of 395c/kg for heifers.

Last week, the beef trade showed some signs of steadying when most processors offered 400c/kg as a base price for heifers and 395-400c/kg for steers.

However, processors have also moved to drop steer prices for this week, with most now sitting on a base price of 385c/kg.

Cow prices have also eased over the past couple of weeks.

Farmers selling P grade cows can expected to be offered 290c/kg, while O grade and R grade cows are currently making 300c/kg and 320-325c/kg respectively.

A number of procurement managers blamed a weaker Sterling for this week’s price drop, as it is making it difficult to get Irish beef into the UK market.

Last week, Meat Industry Ireland, the association representing beef factories said Irish cattle prices have been consistently well ahead of EU average prices and the recent 2% weakening in prices is due to the prevailing market forces.

The reality is that the value of Sterling is now 15% down on pre-Brexit and 25% down on November 2015 – this does have an impact on returns and has a direct impact on the competitiveness of Irish beef, it said.

Slight fall in cattle throughput

There was a slight fall in the number of cattle slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved beef export plants during the week ending July 3.

Figures from the Department show that the number of cattle slaughtered in Irish beef plants was 176 head or 0.6% lower than the week before.

The majority of this drop is due to a fall in heifer and cow throughput, which were back by 403 head and 858 head respectively. Aged bull slaughterings also declined by 9.5% or 48 head.

However, despite the fall in cattle throughput during the week ending July 3, there was an increase in the number of steer (+1,115 head) and young bull (+14 head) slaughterings.

Week-on-week beef kill changes:
  • Young bull: +14 head (+0.3%)
  • Bull: -48 head (-9.5%)
  • Steer: +1,115 head (+11%)
  • Cow: -858 head (-10.5%)
  • Heifer: -403 head (-5%)
  • Total: -176 head (-0.6%)

Cumulative beef kill

According to the Department, there has been a jump in the number of cattle slaughtered so far this year compared to the same time in 2015.

So far this year, 31,339 more cattle (+4%) have been slaughtered in Department approved beef export plants compared to the same time in 2015.

All of the cattle categories have posted some increase in throughput numbers, with steer (+11,412 head) and heifer (+7,476 head) showing the biggest increase in slaughter numbers.

The cumulative young bull and cow kill has also increased by 4,650 head (+4%) and 7,319 head (+4.7%) respectively.


Main Markets for Irish beef

According to Bord Bia, there has been some upward movement in the British cattle trade due to tighter supplies and a steady environment.

It reports that most cuts have seen a steady performance with demand best for steak cuts.

Although the British price is up in sterling terms, in euro the British steer price is now equivalent to around €4.02/kg, while the latest Northern Irish R3 steer price equates to €3.95/kg.

Bord Bia also says that the French market remains unchanged as it still remains difficult to get imported product onto retail shelves.

In Italy, little change has been reported in the market this week and the R3 young bull price was averaging €3.71/kg while the O3 cow price was making €2.65/kg.