A big gap has opened up between the Irish beef price and the UK beef price in the last three weeks.

That gap now stands at 41c/kg or almost €160 more being paid to UK farmers on a 380kg carcase.

A 17c/kg gap exists between the Irish bullock price and the EU young bull price.

Both the EU and UK beef price bottomed out at €4.91/kg and €5.14/kg respectively at the end of July, but have since rallied to the current bullock price of €4.98/kg in the EU and €5.22/kg in the UK.

Irish beef prices peaked at €5.32/kg in mid-June and since then have been falling. The drop in Irish prices is being seen as a cynical move from factories by beef finishers given the recovery that is being seen in both the EU and UK markets, which account for 90% of Irish beef exports.

Cattle demand

Factory agents are more eager for stock this week, as market demand has seen a lift over the last two weeks.

It’s understood that a number of planned supermarket promotions targeting the back-to-school market are being planned for early September and this is leading to a particular lift in demand for manufacturing beef.

Factory agents were quoting €4.80/kg on Monday morning for bullocks, with a little extra going for those dealing with bigger numbers.

Heifers are generally being bought at €4.85/kg, with €4.90/kg also being paid where pressure is being applied and where numbers are involved.

Cow prices

Cow prices have also steadied, with R and U grading cows ranging in price from €4.80/kg to €4.90/kg.

O grading cows are back at €4.60/kg to €4.70/kg, while there is a wide range in what is being quoted for P grading cows, with anything from €4.30/kg to €4.50/kg being quoted, depending on weight and flesh cover.

The bull trade is firm, with €4.80/kg being paid for under-24-month bulls.

Some specialised bull finishers have been able to squeeze €4.95/kg for bulls this week, with O grading bulls working off €4.60/kg to €4.70/kg.

Black and white P grading dairy bulls are being quoted at €4.50/kg to €4.55/kg, but are in short supply.

Last week’s kill is expected to be another strong one, with some factories moving back to a full week’s kill such is the demand for stock.

Heavy rain in the south of the country on Sunday and Monday is expected to relieve the grass situation on many farms where grass supplies were beginning to become an issue.