Beef price is slowly edging upwards despite best efforts from factories to keep a lid on the price.

Quotes for cattle and what is actually paid for cattle are two different prices this week, with other tactics being employed to get cattle.

Factories are trying everything in their power not to increase prices, including paying haulage, offering flat deals, and a more relaxed attitude to specifications, including no penalties on overweight carcases.

Quotes for bullocks are at €3.75/kg to €3.80/kg, with €3.80/kg being paid in almost all instance. There are some quotes of €3.85/kg also creeping into the market.

Heifers are moving at €3.80-€3.85/kg, with €3.90/kg and more being paid to regular suppliers and those with numbers.

Foyle Meats Donegal is offering a 10c/kg bonus for carcases killing out between 300kg and 380kg on top of quoted prices for bullocks and heifers.

Angus and Hereford bonuses vary between 10c and 15c/kg in most factories.

Prime export benchmark

The latest prime export benchmark price shows continued growth in Ireland’s main exporting markets for beef, rising by a further 1c/kg to €3.83/kg.

The Irish prime composite price rose by 2c/kg for the same period to €3.71/kg. That means the price differential remains at 12c/kg.

Bull prices

Bulls continue to move at €3.80/kg to €3.85/kg for R grading bulls, with €3.90/kg to €3.95/kg being paid for U grading bulls.

O grading bulls are being quoted at €3.70/kg to €3.75/kg. Young bulls are generally moving off €3.75/kg to €3.80/kg before grid and in-spec payments are included.

Cows improving

Cows are still improving, with some factories increasing quotes by another 5c/kg this week to secure supplies.

P grading cows are now trading at €3.10/kg, with O grading cows moving at €3.20/kg to €3.25/kg.

R grading cows are making as high as €3.50/kg in some factories. Foyle Meats Donegal is also offering a 10c/kg bonus on quality assured cows killing out between 300kg and 380kg.

Last week’s kill came in at 30,886 head excluding veal which is down over 6000 head on the corresponding week in 2020.

Prices continue to improve across the water, with the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) reporting an R4L steer price of £386.6p/kg (€4.80/kg inc VAT).

IFA livestock chair Brendan Golden said the announcement by the UK government of the revised timetable for SPS checks and controls removes uncertainty in our key export for the next number of months.

“Factories can continue to access the market without the uncertainty of the impact of additional checks and controls that were scheduled for April and July.

“This is a very positive development for beef sales and the clarity must be returned in higher prices to farmers,” he said.

NI comment

In Northern Ireland, the beef trade remains robust, with some quotes rising by 2p/kg to 372p/kg (€4.55/kg inc VAT) for U-3 grading animals. However, prime cattle are an easy sell and deals are being made well above base. Steers are moving freely at 382p to 384p/kg (€4.68 to €4.70/kg), while in-spec heifers are making up to 388p/kg (€4.75/kg) for regular sellers. There are higher prices on offer, but mainly for specialist finishers. Cull cows are an improved trade with deals of 300p to 320p/kg (€3.67 to €3.92/kg) on offer for good-quality suckler types.