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Aug 31, 2023 | Latest News, Press Releases | 0 comments

ICSA Beef chair Edmund Graham has advised farmers that the ball is back in their court and that factory prices are hardening. “This week has seen a marked change with factories actively looking for cattle and quotes have increased by as much as 10c/kg. It is now time for farmers to toughen when selling cattle and seek higher prices.” 

Mr Graham pointed out that prices have been far below the level paid in our export markets for most of the summer and that factories have taken excess profit. “It is now time to claw back some of this.  If we look at the Bord Bia market tracking for the most recent available week, (August 19), we that Irish prime beef prices have been 34c/kg behind the EU comparable figure. The most recent figures from Bord Bia indicate an Irish composite price of €4.56/kg (excl VAT) for prime cattle compared to the EU export benchmark price of €4.90/kg. That’s a differential of 34c/kg which cannot be explained away,” he said.

Mr Graham said the situation has been even more dire when Irish prices are compared to those in the UK. “The last time we saw prices here on par with UK prices was back in January of this year. Since then, a significant price gap has opened, and UK prices have remained consistently higher than what is being offered to Irish producers. The most recently listed comparison on Bord Bia’s Beef Market Tracker – from 12 August 2023 – puts UK prices for prime R3 cattle at an average of €5.33/kg with Irish prices for similar stock languishing at an average of €4.66/kg (excl VAT). That is a staggering difference of 67c/kg or €240 on a typical 360kg carcase.”

“This explains why we are seeing an increase in the numbers of cattle being bought in Irish marts and brought to direct to slaughter in Northern Ireland.”

Mr Graham said beef producers here are becoming more and more despondent at not being paid a fair price. “Morale is definitely low, but anger is growing too. It is shameful that there has been no acknowledgement from the processors that it is costing more than ever to produce beef; it is shameful that our beef farmers are expected to produce at below any recognised Teagasc cost of production figures; and it is not economically sustainable at a time of escalating costs.”

Mr Graham encouraged farmers to fight for the best prices possible. “Each and every farmer who has dealings with the big processors needs to push hard for prices as there is more to be had than general quotes would suggest. It is still not enough but we need to keep the pressure on to close those price gaps.”


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