Cattle & Beef

A total of 35,607 cattle were processed during the week ended 28th March 2020, which was a decline of 2,291 animals on the previous week and a decrease of 318 on the equivalent week last year.

A total of 479,014 cattle have been processed up to the week ending 28th March 2020. This figure represents an increase of 2%, or 9,000 head on the corresponding period in 2019.

The base prices being offered for prime cattle in Ireland recorded a drop of 10c/kg. As a result, both steers and heifers were receiving quotes of €3.50/kg. These prices exclude “in-spec” bonus payments. The average price paid for R3 steers for the year to-date in 2020 was €3.65/kg excl. VAT, which is marginally below the same period in 2019.

As previously reported, the foodservice and manufacturing channels have been severely impacted as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. This has greatly reduced demand for cull cows and cattle falling outside the preferred retail specifications. Quotes for O grade cull cows are generally in the range from €2.60-€2.70, which represents a further decline of approximately €0.20/kg compared with the previous week.

The average prices paid for prime cattle for week ending 28th March 2020, as recorded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, were €3.65 /kg for R3 steers, and €3.68/kg for R3 heifers. Note that these prices exclude VAT but would include all bonuses such as breed-based producer groups.

Prices paid for cattle in Northern Ireland recorded a slight decline for week ending 28th of March. R3 Steers averaged £3.38/kg, and heifers £3.39/kg. These prices were equivalent to €3.69/kg and €3.70/kg, respectively excluding VAT.

Prices paid for cattle in Britain were largely unchanged during the same week, with R3 steers averaging £3.43/kg, whilst R3 heifers stood at £3.41/kg. In euro terms, these prices were equivalent to €3.75/kg and €3.73/kg, respectively excluding VAT.

Across Europe, average R3 young bull prices are now equivalent to €3.52/kg excluding VAT, which is now 13c/kg below the average Irish R3 steer price.

The Irish composite cattle price for week ending 28th of March was €3.38/kg deadweight excluding VAT, compared with the Export benchmark price of €3.29/kg.

Live Exports

Live export figures for the week ending 28th March 2020, stood at 14,334 animals, with almost 11,000 of these being calves. Key markets included Northern Ireland, Britain, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Greece, Poland, Czech Republic and Turkey.
So far in 2020, a total of 102,542 cattle were sent for live export. This represents a 4% decline in exports compared to the same period in 2019.

In recent weeks, there has been a decline in demand for calves in key export markets as a result of the Covid pandemic. In the Netherlands, reported calf prices have fallen by up to €30 per head as the veal industry experiences a significant decline in demand from important export markets (Italy, France and Germany). In Spain, importers continue to purchase Irish calves in good numbers, although prices have also been impacted by uncertainty among feedlot owners.

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