Factories are scrambling for supplies for next week’s kill, with reports of prices increasing by as much as 15c/kg for some categories of stock.

Heifer quotes have moved to €4.00-€4.10/kg, with steers also improving from €3.85/kg to €3.90-€3.95/kg for next week.

Young bulls have also improved, with a €4.00/kg base price on the table from some processors to get supplies for next week.


Prices in Britain increased again this week, with the average R4L steer price now sitting at the equivalent of €5/kg including VAT. With record retail sales and lower supplies of finished cattle, British processors have been struggling to fill retail orders.

The reopening of the food service trade will likely take some pressure off the retail supply.

With Irish beef imports forming a large part of the UK food service supply, this will have a knock-on effect of increasing demand for Irish imports.

Northern Ireland

The Northern Irish beef trade is also strong, with tighter supplies and growing demand boosting the trade. Factory quotes north of the border have risen to €4.71/kg for U grading animals this week.

The announcement by the UK government that the UK hospitality industry will open next week has meant factories will need to ramp up activity in the coming weeks to meet demand. Some factories that have been working on three to four days weeks up to now have moved to a five-day kill for next week.

The beef industry is in a unique position in that all food service supply chain channels are currently empty. That means restocking will start to take place in the next few weeks in advance of the May reopening.

Tight supplies

Supplies of finished cattle remain tight. Last week’s cattle kill came in at 30,253 excluding veal. There have been 56,414 fewer cattle killed in 2021 compared to 2020, with current weekly kills running 2,500 behind last year’s levels.

With the ball at the finisher’s foot, farmers are advised to bargain hard when selling. Traditionally the next eight to 10 weeks have always been tight for beef supplies and farmers should use this to their advantage.

This week Irish Farmers Journal markets specialist Phelim O’Neill reported that the global beef trade is extremely strong at the moment, with China driving demand and importing 100,000t of beef so far in 2021.

This demand has seen the Brazilian and Australian beef trade lift in recent weeks, with forecasts for higher prices for the rest of 2021.