Irish beef production bounces back in October

Thursday, 2 January 2020

By Charlie Reeve

During October, Irish beef production jumped up by 85% month-on-month to total 61,000 tonnes (177,000 head). Average carcase weights also increased during October to 344kg. This was after a particularly low throughput during September due to strike action. Compared to October 2018, production was only marginally up (+1,600 tonnes).

For the year to date, total cattle throughput in Ireland is down 3% at 1,532,000 head, 44,000 head less than the same period of the previous year. However, there is a definite diverging trend between the first part of the year and more recent months. In the first six months of 2019, 48,600 more cattle came forward. Whereas, since July 92,700 fewer have come forward with much of this decline due to the strikes.

Irish exports were also up on the previous month during October 2019. Total Irish fresh/frozen beef exports in October reached 33,000 tonnes. Despite this, exports were still 3% down compared to October 2018. The UK remained the largest export destination for Irish fresh/frozen beef exports, accounting for 41% of total exports.

Irish fresh/frozen beef exports to China during October reached 860 tonnes, the highest monthly figure on record according to Irish Customs data. Growth to this destination is likely to continue, with further plant approvals in October.

Although cattle throughput has now returned to more normal levels, some Irish producers continue to take action against low cattle prices. More recently, activity has been directed at retailers. The Irish Farming Association (IFA) have been hosting demonstrations at major retailer distribution centres including Aldi, Lidl and Tesco during December.

Whilst beef prices in GB have begun to increase in recent months, Irish beef prices have faced continued pressure. Much of this is due to beasts which should have been killed during the strike period but were not, leading to oversupply now.

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