Factory prices for prime cattle at NI plants are running 30p/kg below those paid by processors in Britain, creating a £120 differential on a 400kg steer carcase.

Over the three-week period ending 25 November, official prices recorded by the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) show U3 steers processed at NI plants averaged 467.3p/kg.

Over the same period, U3 steers in Britain averaged 496.2p/kg, a gap of 29.8p/kg.

However, there is a 36.7p/kg gap to Scottish U3 steers at 503.1p/kg and the same animals in Northern England averaged 493.36p/kg.

The price differential on R3 steers shows NI animals averaged 463.7p/kg, which is 36p/kg behind the 500p/kg paid in Scotland and 26p/kg below Britain.


A slightly larger price gap exists on U3 and R3 heifers, with NI plants paying 466.7p and 462.5p/kg respectively during the outlined period.

In Britain, U3 and R3 heifers averaged 498.1p/kg and 487.3p/kg, creating a differential of £113 on a 360kg U3 carcase.


Factory prices on cull cows are also significantly higher in Britain than NI.

Market data shows O3 cows averaged 325.16p/kg during the outlined period, 15p/kg above the 310.4p/kg at NI plants.


Comparing local cattle prices to the Republic of Ireland (ROI), U3 cattle processed in NI are as much as 50p/kg ahead after converting to sterling and removing the 5% VAT rate payable in ROI. Irish heifers averaged 422.93p/kg for U3 grading animals with steers on 416.53p/kg.

However, cow prices are higher at Irish plants, with O3 animals averaging 331.86p/kg.

Fifth highest

Despite being behind Britain, the LMC analysis shows NI beef price is still ranked fifth highest in Europe for the week ending 25 November.

Britain had the second highest beef price in Europe, bettered only by Italy. Irish beef price was ranked 10th, up four places from similar analysis in late October.

Current trade

With supplies of in-spec cattle tightening in NI, factory agents are much more active for stock this week and prices are up 2p to 4p/kg. U-3 grading steers and heifers are generally moving at 470p/kg, with 474p/kg on offer to regular finishers.

In-spec bulls are priced between 460p and 468p/kg, with cows holding around 335p/kg for R-grading animals.

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