According to the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) the beef price differential between Northern Ireland and the Republic has halved in recent weeks.

It says R3 steer prices have recorded a decline in ROI during 2014 to date with an R3 steer price in ROI last week the equivalent of 385.9c/kg (312.5p/kg), back 9.75 (7.9p/kg) from the 395.7 (320.4p/kg) paid in the week ending January 11, 2014.

This represented a 2.5% decline in the R3 steer price in the region. While there has been a decline in ROI prices between January and May 2014 the R3 steer price has been relatively stable in ROI in recent weeks while prices in NI and GB have come under pressure.

As a result the LMC highlights that the differential for R3 steers between ROI and NI narrowed from 55.8c/kg (45.2p/kg) in the week ending January 11, 2014 to 28.9c/kg (23.4p/kg) last week. In monetary terms the differential in carcass value for a 330kg R3 grade steer carcass narrowed from €184 (£149) in the week ending January 11, 2014 to €95 (£77) last week.

However it noted, while the availability of prime cattle for slaughter is expected to remain fairly strong in ROI for the remainder of 2014 the number of slaughter fit cattle in both NI and GB is forecast to tighten towards the end of the year. With farmgate beef prices heavily influenced by the supply and demand situation it remains to be seen how the forecasted tighter supplies will influence deadweight prices as 2014 progresses.