Some processors have turned to live Irish cattle imports to secure beef during the tightest UK supply period since the 2001 foot-and-mouth epidemic.
Draconian paperwork and tight Irish numbers could limit volumes, but there have been several reports of cattle shipments into the UK from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Processors faced with unprecedented deadweight base prices of 420p/kg in Scotland (with deals also done in northern England at this level) have taken advantage of the usual price differential across the Irish sea, which is currently 18-20% lower.
Irish base prices were about 335p/kg at the start of the month, whereas many UK producers saw 400p/kg. Latest increases take UK trade beyond “horsegate” highs of June and July 2013.
Many expect the southern Irish beef to flow into the catering trade as restaurants and pubs reopen.
Numbers are tight because of higher supermarket buying during lockdown and a lower calf supply, stemming back to the Beast from the East cold and wintry conditions in 2018 and subsequent cow culling in the drought.
by Michael Priestley / Farmers Weekly