In the fourth instalment of That’s Farming’s Beef Roundup, I’m going to take a slightly different direction and look at what could happen in the beef market for the next 12 months.
In the domestic market, beef consumption is on the up while worldwide beef consumption is stagnating.
As Ireland is self-sufficient in beef, certainly, over 640%, according to Bord Bia, a slight rise in consumption will not have much of an impact on the overall trade.
However the biggest potential single influence on the beef trade is of course Brexit. Much has been written about Brexit but nothing definitive can be concluded that will occur and at the time of writing Article 50, which needs to be triggered to begin the process of Britain leaving the EU, has yet to happen.
As Britain is the single biggest customer of Irish beef, and in general of all our food, then we can expect Brexit to have a significant effect on beef prices, demand and trade.
Some analysts feel that Britain leaving the EU will allow Brazilian and Argentinian beef imports. However, the average British consumer would rate Irish beef on a par with British beef in regards quality and safety.
Replacing high quality beef imports with South American surely would not be acceptable to the discerning British consumer with the question being more and more directed at how the animals are treated during their lifetime as well as traceability and treatment of growth promoters and antibiotic use.
I don’t believe that a direct replacement can easily be found to equal or surpass the high quality of our beef, and the UK market will still demand and require our beef.
Often I have heard complaints over the paperwork involved between the department and Bord Bia but here is the perfect chance to prove to the farmers themselves its true value.
I for one, don’t believe that we will be putting beef into any intervention scheme anytime soon.
Over the last few years, more and more markets for our beef are opening up and now I call on all stakeholders to work as hard as possible to develop these markets.
Exports to markets outside of the UK and indeed outside of Europe each year make up a higher percentage of where our beef is exported to.
China, which in 2015 lifted the ban on Irish beef, with a population of 1.3 billion is a massive untapped market and great effort is needed to present Irish beef. It is expected that beef consumption will increase by one million tonnes over the next five years.
Bullocks were in general a strong trade with lighter bullocks around 450kg making from 400 to 650 with the weight depending on quality.
Better quality heifers made from 500 to over 650 with the weight again depending on quality with plainer types proving a harder trade, as the information on stars is now being available on the screen in the ring.
Cull cows again were a strong trade with reports that factory buyers were active for slaughter fit cull cows.
Prices in general are holding steady with the following prices being quoted.
Note: all prices quoted are base price only and do not include any bonus paid on QA or Angus/Hereford schemes.
Bullocks 375c/kg – 385c/kg
Heifers 385c/kg – 395c/kg
Cows 300c/kg – 345c/kg
Young Bulls 370c/kg – 395c/kg
With reported strong factory demand, it is expected that prices will hold or rise slightly depending on demand.
For anyone in Zone A and B for slurry spreading, remember safety first.
Evacuate and Ventilate before you Agitate.