Current beef prices are not reflecting the costs incurred by farmers, the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) has warned.
IFA livestock chair Brendan Golden highlighted that there is now a 13c/kg differential between Irish beef prices and the Bord Bia prime export benchmark price.
He said this has come about due to the “persistence of factories in dropping prices”, something he said is “not acceptable”.
Golden called on factories and Bord Bia to do more to position Irish beef at the higher end of key export markets and return prices that reflect on-farm input costs.
The IFA livestock chair insisted that factories are “acutely aware” of the production costs increases associated with cattle finishing, which he said are set to increase by a further 3% in 2023, up from the 28% increase in 2022, based on Teagasc analysis.
Golden suggested farmers should reject the lower quotes offered by some factories and pointed out that deals of 10c/kg above quoted prices are available, with steers making up to €4.70/kg to €4.80/kg this week and heifers still securing deals of up to €4.85/kg base price.
“Supplies of finished cattle are tight and will tighten further over the coming weeks and months based on projections for the throughput for the year. Live export demand for forward store and finished cattle from NI will also add important competition to the trade,” he said.
The IFA highlighted that based on Bord Bia supply projections for the year, 30,000 fewer cattle are anticipated for slaughter in the coming months and said that with grass cattle slow in coming to market, throughput is expected to remain tight in the coming weeks.
“Strong beef prices in the coming weeks and months are vital if factories want a constant supply of prime cattle year around to maintain normal supply patterns,” Golden added.