It was business as usual for the main Irish beef processors this week, against a backdrop of freight chaos as European borders closed.

Kepak, Dawn Meats and ABP had all planned to kill three days this week and three days next week and those plans are still in place.

Quotes have held firm at €3.70/kg to €3.80/kg with prime cattle in firm demand.

Cows are a little easier this week, with some factories dropping quotes by €0.05/kg to €0.10/kg.

The larger processors have continued to push beef into the UK with no restrictions to make sure retail contracts are supplied without any breaks in supply in early January.

They have rented extra storage in the UK in the anticipation of a no-deal Brexit on 31 December. Much of this stockpiling is finished although beef will continue to move over the next two weeks into the UK.

The COVID-19 lockdown across the UK will drive retail beef sales over the next few weeks. However, some smaller processors with a heavier reliance on the European market were hit by the freight issues, with some kill days cancelled this week.

Alternative routes

Processors using the UK as a landbridge to Europe have been forced to find alternative routes.

The Irish Farmers Journal understands there was Irish beef and lamb caught up in the chaos in Kent at the entrance to the Channel Tunnel and Dover Port but they have since been diverted.

A new Stena Line ferry from Rosslare to Cherbourg introduced on Tuesday will help to alleviate some of the issues, but there is concern in the industry that if the current access restrictions from the UK to France aren’t lifted it could impact the supply of goods to Europe in a short time.