The annual Irish Farmers Journal meat factory leagues are a consolidation of the weekly prices that are published each week throughout the year.

This provides a snapshot of where the best and worst prices are paid for each type of cattle.

Every animal reported on is included, which means that in factories that have killed very few of the extreme grades there will be outliers in prices.

The mainstream grades will have high numbers of cattle and therefore be very representative of what the going rate is for those cattle.

ABP, Dawn and Kepak dominate overall across steers, heifers and young bulls, with the remaining factories paying strongly for cows.

The position of the big three groups was strengthened in 2020 as the route to market for beef switched from a mix of retail and food service to almost exclusively retail.

This was to the advantage of factories with supermarket listings and penalised those companies outside this that had focused on the hospitality and wider food service sector.

Movement on 2019

There is always some movement in the table but focusing on the mainstream R=3= and O=3= grades, there are a few examples of factories that have moved 10 or more places.

Big fallers include ABP Rathkeale, dropping from fifth last year to 19th this year for O=3= cows, while the ABP Bandon factory fell 11 places for O=3= young bulls.

Dawn Ballyhaunis dropped from fifth to 15th place on R=3= cows and it also dropped 10 places from first to 11th for O=3= young bulls. Foyle was a big faller, dropping 10 places from seventh to 17th on O=3= steers but also was a big climber, with its R=3= young bull prices going up from 13th to second.

There is more scope for movement and variance in the U=3= and P+3= grades as there are fewer numbers of these cattle.