‘No doubt’ that factories can pay ‘significantly’ more for beef

There is “no doubt” that factories should be paying more than they are at present for cattle, according to the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA).

Commenting on the matter, ICMSA Livestock Committee chairman Des Morrison said: “The number of finished cattle will tighten going forward.

“As of May 1, 2020, the number of male cattle over 12 months-of-age was 68,000 less than May 1, 2019, and in the case of beef female cattle, 25,000 less.

In total, this means 93,000 less cattle over 12 months-of-age for the rest of this year. Markets have recovered from the Covid-19 shock, demand is stronger and supplies will be tighter for the rest of this year.

Morrison said that in Ireland’s major market, the UK, beef prices are reported to have surged over the last few weeks due to increased retail demand with prices now 40c/kg or €150/head above Irish prices.

“That kind of differential cannot simply be explained away by the usual excuses from meat plants. Demand is increasing strongly at retail level and, as the food-services side re-opens and starts ‘going through the gears’, there is strong reason for optimism,” he added.

“Northern Irish and British prices are significantly ahead of ours and factory agents are paying more for finished cattle at the marts than farmers would be able to get if they went direct to the factories with those same cattle.

Factories are willing to pay more at marts for cattle than they are to their direct suppliers and this simply needs to change by bringing beef quotes up to the market level.

“This current practice makes a laugh of the factories PR speak about building relationships with suppliers and it is no wonder there is such a lack of confidence in the current relationship,” Morrison said.

“We’ve no doubt that factory prices could go up substantially. The meat plants need to match their PR speak with actions because the evidence supports us, and beef prices should be increased immediately,” the chairman concluded.