Meat processors dismiss claims factories are hedging cattle prices

Meat Industry Ireland, the body representing the meat processors, has dismissed claims by the IFA that factories are hedging cattle prices.

In response to recent IFA comments on cattle prices, Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has said that, based on official Department of Agriculture and European Commission figures, the cattle price in Ireland today is on par with the UK.

Quoting these figures, it has said that the cattle price is currently at 111% of the EU average price and has been running well in excess of 100% of EU average prices since January 2016.

This remains a very strong performance for a country which exports over 90% of its beef, according to MII.

While IFA has pointed to a recent increase in UK cattle prices, MII has said that it fails to point out that overall cattle prices in the UK are running well below year-on-year levels reflecting a very competitive marketplace.

Again, noting that Irish cattle prices have been consistently well ahead of EU average prices, the body representing the processors said that the recent 2% weakening in prices is attributable to 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.

Speaking on RTE Radio this week on cattle prices, IFA President Joe Healy said that the factories have hedged their prices and he advised farmers to hold off and ensure that the factories return what they should be returning.

Healy said that he wants to see the farmers get at least about the cost of production, which according to Teagasc is €4.00/kg, but Healy said that farmers are currently getting around €3.90/kg.

“At the moment, the market can return an awful lot more than what the processors are quoting,” he said.