Jonathon Forbes, Kepak group procurement manager, said he expects beef prices to fall next week and over the coming weeks but to rise again in early December ahead of the Christmas demand. Speaking at the Kiernan Milling discussion night in Granard on Thursday 17 September, Jonathon said: “Beef prices will potentially fall by 10c/kg next week to a base of €3.90/kg for steers and €4.00/kg for heifers.”

He went on to say that base prices could fall back as far as €3.80/kg for steers into October and €3.90/kg for heifers but expects prices to increase again into December. Jonathon said the combination of the financial situation in China, where markets were becoming depressed for offal and hide exports, as well as the protests in France where consumers are supporting indigenous produce rather than buying imported beef, are having an effect.

“The strength of sterling is helping exports to the UK and is one of the main reasons prices have been strong this year,” according to Jonathon. He wouldn’t be pushed on speculating what beef prices would be for next year but said: “Beef farmers should only base their budgets in or around 2015 levels in my opinion.”

United States

Jonathon said the United States is very a very important market for Kepak and says they are working hard to make it happen. “Manufacturing beef makes up 40% to 50% of a beef carcase. Prices in the US for manufacturing beef are running €1/kg ahead, so access to this market is crucial.”

“However, the biggest issue we have in trying to convince the USDA to approve meat imports is the fact that we don’t treat carcases with lactic acid. In the United States, they give carcases two treatments of lactic acid and they cannot understand our clean procedure in Irish factories,” he concluded.