The popularity of Angus beef on consumer shelves has led to factory demand for the breed increase hugely in recent years.
Speaking at a recent Grassland Association open day Kepak Procurement Manager Jonathan Forbes told farmers that Kepak currently don’t have enough Angus for its current market opportunities and said he sees opportunities to have more Angus in the system for new emerging opportunities.
“We are actively out sourcing Angus cattle. We currently want more Angus cattle.
“If you ring our procurement team this week, one of the first questions you will get asked is if you have any Angus or Hereford cattle?” Forbes said.
However, he also said the that there is a seasonal challenge for Kepak in supply of Angus and Hereford cattle and is having a negative impact on the potential markets Kepak could supply.
“We can’t have 600 Angus cattle to market this week and only have 300 next week.
“We need a continuous and relatively balanced supply of Angus and Hereford over the 52 week calendar year , in order to supply our customers and their consumer base.
“That is the way the market works,” he said.
However, he said he was concerned with the quality of some of the Angus and Hereford cattle coming forward.
“We do have an issue with the quality of an increasingly larger proportion of Angus and Hereford coming into our sites. Particularly in the south of Ireland, with the increased dairy influence.
“We have up to a quarter of the breeds failing to meet the retail spec of O= or better and are grading O- and P grade which don’t meet the market specification.”
Forbes told beef farmers the message on quality has to be communicated to dairy farmers which for the most part breed the stock.
“You guys buying calves will have to select the calves that will achieve the grade and hence the breed premium – and price according to the quality of the calf.
“The market is not going to pay you a premium for an O- or a P grade animal and there will be no reward for producing these. Because it doesn’t satisfy the market end,– the inspec cattle are being marketed largely to retailers, foodservice and some select wholesalers across EU,” he stressed.
Forbes said in calf to beef systems number one for the famers always has to be calf selection. He was also keen to encourage beef farmers to build a relationship and line of communication to a processor, their breed Producer Group and stressed the importance of improving communication between processors and suppliers.