Tight supplies and ‘strong farmer resistance’ strengthen beef prices slightly

Tight cattle supplies and “strong farmers’ resistance to unjustified quotes” have been cited as reasons for a slight strengthening in beef prices in recent days.

Brendan Golden, the chairperson of the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) National Livestock Committee, has said that steers “are making €3.75/kg to €3.80/kg, with heifers making €3.80/kg to €3.85/kg”.

“The cow trade is steady, ranging from €2.90/kg for P grades to €3.40/kg for R and U grades, with some higher prices,” Golden noted.

Young bulls are ranging from €3.60/kg to €3.80/kg for R and U grades.

According to Golden, the IFA “left MII [Meat Industry Ireland] in no doubt that undermining of the marketplace by meat factories will not be tolerated and beef prices must reflect the full value of our key markets”.

The IFA national livestock chairperson said that the Prime Export Benchmark price for the latest week “is steady at €3.76/kg, while the equivalent Irish price dropped by 5c/kg”, which, according to Golden, “underlines how unjustified” recent price cuts were.

UK market

On the UK market, Golden said: “Supplies of finished cattle are extremely tight. UK slaughter-fit cattle are predicted to be back 5% this year and sterling has continued to strengthen since the end of January. It’s currently at 86p, creating positive market conditions for Irish beef.”

He called on factories to reverse the price cuts of recent weeks and “reflect the full value of the marketplace in cattle prices”.

While sterling is strengthening, it’s still almost 20% behind the pre-Brexit vote levels and impacting directly on incomes for beef farmers. This is further compounded by sub-standard imports that are allowed into the EU to undermine our key market.

On winter finishers, Golden said that they are dealing with the impact of increasing input supplies, and that the “breakeven price” of €4.50/kg “is a long way from current prices”.