Figures from the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) show that total Northern Ireland beef production increased last year by over 10,000t and total value was up by £20m compared to 2006, although there was no change in farmgate price.
Total beef production in Northern Ireland increased by 10,650t to 152,590t in 2007 from 141,940t in 2006. This 8% increase was not just a reflection of increased cow beef output for the food chain (up 9% to 21,020t as prime beef production increased by 7% to 131,570t.
The increase in prime beef production was due to a 5% increase in slaughterings and an increase of 6kg in average carcase weight to 334kg.
Cow and bull slaughterings were 9% higher at 65,300 head, which offset a slight reduction of 2kg in average carcase weight to 322kg.
There was no change to the average price of prime cattle at £1.93/kg in 2007, and the average price for cows was only slightly down by 1p to £1.44/kg. The increased production volume meant that the value of prime cattle increased by 8% to £255m, while the value of cow and bull output rose 7% to £30m.
Andrew Doherty, LMC economist, said "While the total value of beef production in NI has grown in 2007, this was not due to an increase in price but to a greater volume of production. It could be argued that NI did well to maintain price when there was a 7% increase in supply, especially when the average price in Europe for R3 male cattle fell by 4% in the year. However the NI price is still a long way off the £3.20/kg calculated by the Red Meat Task Force as needed for long-term sustainability of suckler beef production by the most efficient producers."