The beef trade remains in a positive position ahead of this week’s trading.

Increased quotes instigated by the smaller independent factories have followed through to the larger players, with all factories now working off increased quotes compared with quotes two weeks ago.

Heifers are now generally moving at €4.20/kg, with a few quotes of €4.25/kg on the cards.

Foyle Meats in Donegal is the top payer for heifers, with €4.30/kg being paid for heifers killing out up to 380kg.

Weight limits

Most factories have increased the weight limits in recent weeks, with very few cuts implemented for overweight carcases in the last few weeks.

Bullocks are moving at €4.15/kg, with €4.20/kg being paid where numbers are involved or where heifers are also involved in a load of beef animals going to a factory.

Young bulls

Young bulls continue to be in demand, with €4.15/kg being paid in most factories. I have heard of one factory paying €4.20/kg base for a load of U grading bulls.

The older bull trade is also brisk, with R grading bulls moving at €4.25/kg and €4.30/kg for U grading bulls.

A number of factories are very hungry for plainer black and white bulls, with up to €4.00/kg on the table for mixed loads of O and P grading dairy bulls.

The cow trade has firmed up more, with P grading cows now moving at €3.50/kg.

O grades are moving at €3.60/kg, while R grading cows are generally being quoted €3.70/kg to €3.80/kg, with 5c/kg to 10c/kg more going for U cows.

Australian beef deal

There has been a lot of talk in recent days around the recent free trade agreement between the UK and Australia, which will increase market access to the UK for Australian beef.

Beef tariffs will be eliminated after 10 years, post-2031.

During the transition period, Australia will have immediate access to a duty-free quota of 35,000t, rising in equal instalments to 110,000t after 10 years.

Up until now, Australia had been exporting modest amounts of beef to the EU paying a 20% tariff rate.

According to the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) - Bord Bia’s equivalent in the UK - the UK had been importing 2,500t to 3,000t of beef from Australia prior to 2019.

This is out of a total UK import requirement of 270,000t, the majority of which is served by Irish beef.

Australia has been coming out of a period of extended drought and livestock prices have been very high

Lead red meat analyst with the AHDB Duncan Wyatt says that: “Initially, Australia won’t be a threat with large volumes coming to the UK. Australia has been coming out of a period of extended drought and livestock prices have been very high which has reduced their international competitiveness.

"Beef imported from Australia will more than likely be steak cuts.”

He added: “Increased trade with the rest of the world will mean more harmonisation of UK and world prices across all cuts, which could lead to more volatility in the future.”