Pressure is mounting on factories to return price increases being seen in many of Ireland’s main beef markets.

A €200/head gap has opened up between cattle slaughtered in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (NI).

NI beef finishers are being paid between €5.30/kg and €5.40/kg this week for R3 heifers, while the average R3 heifer killed in the south is coming in at €4.82/kg this week, a 50c to 60c/kg difference or close to €200/head.

Lucrative Christmas market

We are entering into a few of the busiest weeks of the year for beef factories, as they kill cattle for the lucrative Christmas market. The next two to three weeks will see factories concentrate on retail supplies, as retailers prepare to stock shelves ahead of the Christmas shopping period.

With peak footfall in the first three weeks of December, it means November is the busiest month in factories preparing for the surge in demand.

Factories have been so far able to fend off calls for an increase in quotes, but this is expected to change as beef finishers become increasingly frustrated with factories' stubbornness of movement on beef quotes.

Beef prices around Europe have kicked on in recent weeks, with the Bord Bia beef market tracker showing a 50c/kg difference in the Irish beef price and the EU price.

Prime cattle

Bullocks continue to be quoted €4.55/kg to €4.65/kg, with heifers working off €4.60/kg to €4.70/kg.

Some factories are introducing sweeteners on other aspects such as transport and breed bonuses rather than increase base prices.

These base quotes are excluding the in-spec bonus of 20c/kg and also excluding any breed bonuses, which are currently running between 20c and 25c/kg, depending on traditional breed of animal that is being sold.

Foyle Meats, Donegal, is also paying a 10c/kg bonus on carcases killing out between 300kg and 400kg.


Bulls have also seen an increased demand this week, with some processors increasing quotes. General quotes range from €4.70/kg to €4.80/kg for U and R grading bulls, with one processor buying larger numbers of bulls at €5/kg on Monday.

O grading bulls are back at €4.50/kg to €4.60/kg, with under-16-month young bulls being quoted at €4.55/kg to-€4.60/kg on the grid.


Cows are a similar trade to last week, with good R grading suckler cows still up at €4.40/kg to €4.50/kg.

O grading cows are being quoted at €4.30/kg, with some being sold at a higher price when included in a load of R grading cows.

P grading dairy cows are the hardest sold, with as low as €3.80/kg, with some factories applying heavy penalties to very light cows.