Weekly imports of Irish cattle for direct slaughter at abattoirs in NI hit a two-year high point last week, with 763 animals moving north of the border for processing.
Out of the total, 583 were prime cattle, with the remaining 178 classed as cull cows.
The number surpassed the previous 2022 high point of 637 back on 25 June, and is the highest weekly import figure since 20 September 2020.
While sterling has weakened against the euro over the past fortnight, beef price on R3 steers and heifers processed in NI is still running 20p/kg ahead of the equivalent value at Irish plants.
That differential is enough to encourage more processors to source cattle in the south.
It is understood that most imports are destined for food service outlets where origin status is less of an issue.
Despite the recent increase, from the start of the year to the week ending 10 September, imports of Irish cattle for direct slaughter stands at 12,703 head, down 12% on the 14,409 animals imported during the same period last year.
NI beef trade steady
The latest factory quotes for prime cattle are unchanged at 426p/kg for U-3 animals with O+3 cows on a top quote of 350p/kg. Prices paid are similar to last week, with prime U3 cattle making 438p to 440p/kg and R grading cows at 380p/kg.
In the sheep trade, factories are struggling to hold lamb prices at 500p/kg as buying competition in the marts strengthens on the back of Irish processors paying to 22kg deadweight.
Price deals of 505p and 510p/kg have been reported for slaughter-fit lambs at local plants to compete with the live trade.