By James Garner

FINISHED beef cattle trade has slid over the past six weeks as the market remains under pressure from cheap imported meat.

Last week prices closed at 155p-157p/kg deadweight for R grade steers, while some auctioneers reported trade down to just 150p/kg for the same class. This is about 10p/kg below the price in mid September.

Duncan Sinclair, chief economist at the Meat and Livestock Commission, said this decline was mainly due to the Continent being awash with cheap beef, which is being imported to the UK.

The main beneficiary has been the Irish Republic. Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board, expected to exceed normal levels of beef exports to the UK by 90,000 – 110,000t this year.

This might change when Ireland reopens its export markets outside the EU. When this trade is resumed, it might help lift UK beef prices by diverting Irish product, says Mr Sinclair.