The price difference between Irish and UK R3 heifers narrowed significantly last week, figures from the European Commission show.

During the week ending April 10, the price gap between Irish and UK R3 heifers narrowed to just 0.3c/kg, as Irish heifers made 398.8c/kg, while R3 heifers in the UK sold for 399.1c/kg.

A week earlier, UK heifers made 11c/kg more than Irish R3 heifers, but in the space of a week the UK heifer price dropped by 9c/kg, it shows.

This means that the UK beef price is at its lowest level in five years, as 75c/kg has been wiped off the UK R3 heifer price over the last 12 months.

The UK is a significant market for Irish beef, as it took 52% of the beef exported from Ireland last year, according to Bord Bia.

But, the closeness of the Irish and UK heifer price is likely to have an impact on the quantity of beef exported to the UK this year.

Speaking at a recent livestock seminar, Bord Bia’s Joe Burke said that Irish exports to the UK have already dropped due to the narrow beef price gap caused by the weaker Sterling.

Burke said that the weaker Sterling is making Irish cattle more expensive in the UK.

Like two weeks ago, Northern Irish R3 heifers are still cheaper than heifers slaughtered south of the border. Official figures show that the price gap between Northern Irish and Irish R3 heifer price stood at 15c/kg last week. 

Two week’s ago, the price difference between a 300kg R3 heifer slaughtered either side of the border was €22, but due to a reduction in the Northern Irish price this gap has jumped to €45.

Meanwhile on the Continent, figures from the European Commission show that the Italian beef price dropped by 10c/kg last week on the week before.

But, looking at the other main markets, there has been little change in the R3 heifer beef price.

EU R3 heifer prices:
  • Ireland: 398.8c/kg
  • Northern Ireland: 383.5c/kg
  • UK: 399.1c/kg
  • France: 390.0c/kg
  • Italy: 400.2c/kg
  • Poland: 302.7c/kg
  • Germany: 360.4c/kg