The IFA has said that market conditions for the sale of both store and finished cattle will remain strong into the latter half of the year as reduced numbers are available in the country for slaughter.

Chair of the IFA’s livestock committee, Brendan Golden, said that a strong live export market to Northern Ireland – running almost 30,000 head higher than last year – has helped to create competition among processors for the limited supply of remaining cattle.

“The strong performance of the live export trade to Northern Ireland for store and finished cattle, which is expected to continue into the back end of the year, is adding strong competition for farmers and ensuring numbers of finished cattle will be tight up to year-end,” he said.

“42,555 cattle have been exported to NI this year, increasing from 13,896 in 2020,” Golden claimed.

UK exports

According to the IFA, beef supplies in the UK are expected to shrink by approximately 4% this year due to a combination of lighter carcase weights at slaughter and smaller numbers being available to factories.

This reduction will further benefit Irish finishers selling to factories as the demand for exported beef is sustained, keeping prices ahead of last year, the livestock chair explained.

“The favourable market conditions in our main export markets are expected to continue for the year. This must be reflected in prices paid to farmers,” Golden said.

Hard bargain

Golden went on to list other examples of international beef markets showing favourable signs to Irish farmers.

He said that EU beef production is expected to reduce in 2021 compared to the year previous and that Chinese demand for protein has redirected competing South American beef away from European markets.

These market conditions all point to a strong beef price performance for the rest of the year, indicating that farmers must leverage their position when selling, Golden said.

Find updated beef prices with comment from beef specialist Adam Woods here.