A massive price gap has opened up between cattle slaughtered in the north and south in the last three weeks.
A 380kg U3 bullock slaughtered in Northern Ireland this week is making €2,306 (€6.07/kg), while €2,059 (€5.42/kg) is being paid for the same bullock in Ireland, a gap of 65c/kg or €247/head.
The UK market, Ireland’s main destination for beef, has been going from strength to strength with demand exceeding supply.
Irish beef prices, on the other hand, have been going in the opposite direction, with factories cutting quotes by up to 20c/kg.
Industry sources have also suggested that retail demand has waned in recent weeks. The most recent Kantar figures show that UK retail sales for beef are down by 1.7% compared to the same period in 2022.
Meanwhile, factories are also delaying cattle being killed by up to two weeks in some cases. This is having a knock-on effect on young bull finishers, where peak numbers are due for sale in the coming weeks.
Furthermore, concern is growing about the UK opening up its markets for tariff-free beef from Australia and New Zealand starting on 1 June 2023.