Northern Irish heifers now cheaper than heifers produced in the south

Heifers slaughtered in Northern Ireland are now cheaper than heifers produced in the Republic, recent figures from the European Commission show.

During the week ending April 4, Northern Irish R3 heifers made 390.71c/kg, while heifers killed south of the border made 397.9c/kg.

This means that Irish R3 heifers made 7c/kg more than Northern Irish heifers during the week ending April 4. On a 300kg carcass, the price difference is almost €22.

In recent weeks, the price difference between Irish and Northern Irish R3 heifers narrowed to just 2c/kg.

Figures from the European Commission also show that the price difference between Irish and UK R3 grade heifers has narrowed over the last week.

English R3 heifers made 408.42c/kg during the week ending April 4, while Irish heifers made 397.9c/kg.

There is now a 11c/kg difference between English and Irish R3 heifers, as the UK R3 heifer dropped by 6.78c/kg last week.

The closeness of the Irish and UK price is making it harder to sell Irish beef in the UK, according to Bord Bia’s Joe Burke.

Speaking at a recent livestock seminar, the Beef and Livestock Sector Manager said that a strong euro is impacting on the price UK and Northern Irish farmers are getting paid for their beef.

He also said that the stronger euro is making Irish beef more expensive in the UK.

The Irish price has remained stable, whereas the UK beef price has dropped consistently since the beginning of the year.

“The UK price in euro terms has declined as Sterling has weakened. The strong Sterling was very beneficial to Irish farmers last year, as over half of Irish beef was sold in Sterling,” he said

But, the strength of Sterling has decreased and this has made Irish cattle less competitive on the UK market, resulting in lower live exports numbers, Burke said.

European beef price changes

Figures from the European Commission show that the beef market has been quite changeable on the Continent over the past week.

During the week ending April 4, German beef prices increased by 1c/kg to 359.4c/kg, Spanish beef prices jumped by almost 2c/kg, while Italian R3 heifer prices dropped by 10c/kg compared to the week previous.

Northern Irish
Source: European Commission

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