Ireland’s beef trade is poised for further increases as demand exceeds supply.

Some processors have indicated a 15-20c/kg bonus for China-eligible cattle when processing begins later this month.

Average prices for R3 bullocks have already increased by 54c/kg in eight weeks, from €4.76/kg in November to €5.30/kg in January, a €200/head increase on a 380kg carcase. In a remarkable swing, the Irish beef price now sits 28c/kg higher than the export benchmark price.

With large numbers of cattle currently being slaughtered from feedlots and TB-controlled units ineligible for the Chinese market, the Chinese demand could be a major boost for farmer finishers.

According to the latest figures, Chinese demand for beef is set to grow by 675,000t in 2023.

The lift in factory quotes has filtered down to mart rings, with mart managers reporting an insatiable appetite for forward stock close to finish.

Irish Farmers Journal MartBids data shows 650kg heifers up €180/head in the last four weeks, with factory agents paying the equivalent of €5.80/kg carcase weight for some cattle in marts this week.

Bord Bia meat and livestock manager Joe Burke told the Irish Farmers Journal this week: “The market outlook appears very positive for the period ahead, with Irish cattle supplies set to tighten and European beef production also in decline.”