Beef prices are still lagging behind the returns from Ireland’s key export markets where prices continue their strong growth, according to the IFA.

IFA livestock chair Brendan Golden said beef prices have moved on by 5c-10c/kg this week but that this is “not keeping pace with markets”.

The Mayo beef farmer was speaking in advance of “lucrative orders” which are currently being filled by factories as demand for beef “heats up” ahead of the Christmas period.

Export market

Golden described the “completely unjustified” disparity between price growth in export markets and that quoted by Irish factories.

He said: “This is reflected in the latest prime export benchmark price of €4.24/kg, which is now 13c/kg above our prime composite price.

“Since the beginning of October, the prime export benchmark price has increased by 12c/kg to its current levels. Over the same period, factories have held our prices stagnant.”

Tight supply

Golden highlighted the current and forecast drop in cattle kill numbers.

“Supplies of finished cattle are extremely tight, with last week’s kill dropping to 35,652, a drop of 2,000 cattle in the past two weeks.

“The steer kill alone was down 1,600 head in the past week.

“Based on supply predictions from Bord Bia, which have been very accurate to date, numbers of finished cattle available to factories over the coming weeks will be limited and farmers should take full advantage to drive prices on.”

The IFA livestock chair called on factories to “come forward with prices that reflect the reality of the market place and increased production costs as beef farmers experience unsustainable input price inflation”.