Factory agents are scrambling for cattle supplies this week as Christmas orders ramp up.

Prime cattle supplies are in freefall with over 4,000 fewer bullocks and heifers killed last week compared to four weeks ago. The supply-demand shift has meant factories have had to increase quotes by 10c/kg to 20c/kg in the last two weeks to secure cattle.

Despite the increase in quotes, Ireland remains a long way behind the prices being paid in its main export markets. R3 heifers in France are quoted at €5.81/kg, with British heifers at €5.91/kg, €1/kg ahead of Irish prices.

Speaking at the Teagasc beef conference on Tuesday night, Rupert Claxton from the meat market research firm, GIRA, said that the current €1,000/t price differential between Ireland and Britain will work in Ireland’s favour, as British buyers look to capitalise on the current price differential.