The latest EU R3 heifer beef price league table shows the biggest monthly slump of the 17 countries and regions listed occurred in Ireland.
At the same time, the price increased in Great Britain, which takes about half of Ireland’s beef exports. Heifers made up about 27% of the kill at Irish beef export factories this year.
For the week ending Aug 5, the R3 heifers averaged 400.1p per kg in Ireland — well ahead of the EU average of 389.2c, but only seventh in the EU league, and significantly behind league leader Great Britain, where the average price was 434.2c.
For the week ending July 8, Irish farmers got the second best price in the EU, 419.2 cent; Great Britain was on top with 431.1c, and the EU average was 383.8c.
The Northern Ireland price has slipped 10c/kg from third to fifth place in the league table over the last month.
This has moved it from second position in July 2012 to seventh position in Aug 2012.
The decline in the Republic price may be acting as a drag on prices in Northern Ireland, with the declining value of the euro making beef from the Republic more competitive in Great Britain — which is also the main market for beef from the North, according to analysts at the Livestock and Meat Commission for Northern Ireland.
Slovenia is the only other country in the EU R3 heifer beef price league table where prices fell in the past month.
The rise in EU beef prices is forecast by Rabobank to level off in this quarter, due to a slight recovery in supplies, and stiffer competition from Brazil in the export market.
EU beef prices have already risen for 21 consecutive months, due to very tight availability of cattle ready for slaughter.
Rabobank figures show that the EU cattle kill fell 5% from January to April. In the same time, imports declined also, by 7.8%.
The beef scarcity has reduced consumption by 2.7% and exports by 28.4%, and led many slaughterhouses to reduce the number of slaughtering days.
Bullock and bull slaughtering has fallen 9.7% across Europe. But the lower decline in slaughtering of calves and young cattle (1.4%) and cows (1.1%) indicates that some herd rebuilding is going on.
Cattle for slaughter in the EU are expected to remains scarce until next summer at least
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