Meat processors should immediately raise beef quotes to reflect the stronger market position, according to Pat McCormack, President of ICMSA.
Mr McCormack noted that the Bord Bia Beef Price Tracker, launched last week, shows that the markets where Ireland sells its beef are "moving in a positive direction" and at a momentum that "demonstrably justifies" an improvement in beef price.
The UK market, where over half of Irish beef is sold, has seen improvements in beef prices while our price has been “static at best” in recent months.
The farm leader said that the gap between the Irish and UK price for R3 and O3 steers stood at 21c/kg and 18c/kg respectively in late July, while the gap today stands at 37c/kg and 35c/kg, respectively.
“It is very obvious that markets have improved but the benefits of those visible market improvements have not been passed back to farmers to-date and, given the disastrous price situation for 2019, this just cannot be allowed to continue.”
“In addition, the availability of under 30-month cattle has tightened considerably and, on that basis, there should be more competition for cattle in the coming weeks." McCormack added.
The gap between Irish and UK beef prices has grown by approximately 20c/kg since July.
“It [ the gap] again highlights the massive frustration of farmers who see markets improving but their price own remaining static and the question that remains unanswered is who is retaining this additional margin at the expense of the primary producer: it’s either the processor or the retailer?”
These questions, he added, need to be answered and addressed at the Beef Taskforce when it gets up and running and that needs to happen rapidly.
“This is a perfect example of the margin-grabbing that has caused such bitterness and resentment in the beef sector where prices go up and either the processors or retailers just pocket the increased margin without passing anything back to the farmers who are actually producing the beef.”
“That has to change and until it does, the sector will lurch from crisis to crisis”, concluded the ICMSA president.