Beef prices strengthen: ‘Prices must push on and reflect market conditions’

Beef prices have strengthened this week with tight supplies and strong demand once again being driven by supermarket sales, according to the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

Commenting on the current situation, IFA National Livestock Committee chairman Brendan Golden said steers are making €3.75 to €3.80/kg, with heifers between €3.80 and €3.85/kg in most factories.

There are deals above these levels available for larger lots and Angus cattle, he added.

Golden said market demand is strong, driven by the high volumes of beef sales in supermarkets. Supplies are predicted to remain tight, the chairman noted.

He said the cow price has also strengthened this week and is ranging from €3/kg to €3.40/kg, depending on grade.

Young bull prices have also risen in the past week and are ranging in general from €3.60 to €3.80/kg for O/R and U grades.

Turning to the matter of Brexit and trade with the UK, Golden said while there is uncertainty around some logistical issues and access to the UK market, demand is strong and beef prices must push on and reflect market conditions.

“Market returns to beef farmers remain a long way off the breakeven price of €4.50/kg and this is not sustainable,” he said.

The chairman highlighted that Brexit has impacted directly on beef farmers since the vote was taken in 2016, primarily through the sterling fluctuation – and this must be addressed in the €1.05 billion Brexit Adjustment Reserve announced for Ireland.

Golden said beef farmers must be first in line for strong and meaningful supports, without pre-conditions.