Beef processors have been called on to increase cattle prices to reflect the value of orders being filled for the Christmas period.

Brendan Golden, the livestock chairperson of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), said this afternoon (Friday, November 4) that supplies of suitably finished cattle continue to tighten.

“Prices have lagged behind the Bord Bia Prime Export Benchmark price by upwards of 30c/kg for the past number of weeks. This is not acceptable,” Golden said.

“Factories can and must do more to return the value of the market to farmers in higher beef prices.”

According to Golden, the projected increase in factory throughput for this year has already come through the system, with over 120,000 more cattle processed to date compared to last year.

He said numbers are expected to drop in line with last year’s throughput or below for the remainder of the year.

Last week, throughput showed a drop of 1,500 head in steer numbers alone.

“These are the prime cattle factories need to fill the supermarket orders for the Christmas market.

“Very few grass cattle are now left on the ground and factories will have to come forward with strong and meaningful beef price increases to entice farmers to short finish cattle in sheds and have them available over the coming weeks to fill Christmas orders,” the IFA livestock chair commented.

He added: “Deals are already being done as cracks appear in the stranglehold factories have had on prices over the past few weeks and it is important farmers sell hard to take back control of the market conditions.”

Golden remarked that there are some incidences of farmers receiving 20c/kg over quoted prices, with very few farmers now accepting the lower quotes offered by some factories.

“Factories and retailers are acutely aware of the production costs beef farmers are exposed to for this winter and beef prices of €5.85/kg to €6.00/kg must be the target,” he said.