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EU Beef Carcase Classification Scheme

The aim of Beef Carcase Classification is to ensure a common classification standard throughout the European Union. This enables the EU to operate a standardised beef price reporting system.

The criteria for classifying are as follows:

  • Conformation (the shape and development of the carcase): is denoted by the letters E, U, R, O, P with E being the best and P the poorest;
  • Fat: the degree of fat is denoted by the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 in order of increasing fatness;
  • Sex category: denoted by the letters A (young bull), B (bull), C (steer), D (cow), E (heifer) and Z (Veal 8-12mts).

Conformation and Fat grades are further broken down into sub classes e.g. R+3-, O=,2+.

Classification information is returned to the supplier by the slaughter plant on the producer return. This producer return will also state whether the classification was carried out by mechanical or manual methods.

From late 2004, most beef carcasses (90%) are classified by mechanical means using VIA technology (Video Image Analysis). As the determination of classification in this case is objective, no appeal is possible.

In smaller plants, classification is carried out by factory employees who have been licensed by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. In these cases, the supplier can appeal the decision of the classifier to the slaughter plant.

Further information can be obtained from Beef Classification Section, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Grattan Business Centre, Portlaoise, Co Laois. Tel: 057 869 4407.

 Weekly and Cumulative Beef Kill Figures

To calculate the weighted average price, the total value (€’s) of all the carcasses in a particular grade is divided by the total weight (Kg’s) of all the carcasses for that grade.

Average Prices    
2020 2019 2018  2017
Average Weights 2020 2019  2018  2017
Average Numbers 2020 2019  2018  2017

Further information can be obtained from Beef Classification Section, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Grattan Business Centre, Portlaoise, Co Laois. Tel: 057 869 4407.

5 X 5 Price Report 2020 2019

The prices in this table are the Weighted Average Prices for each Full Class for Cat A, B, C, D, E and Z. It should be noted that these prices are calculated using all subclasses for the particular grade.

For example, the price of an ‘R1’ is calculated by taking all carcasses in the following sub classes  R+1+, R+1=, R+1-, R=1+, R=1=, R=1-, R-1+, R-1= and R-1- and calculating the weighted average price.

 

Beef Carcase Classification Figures (2011 2019)

Beef Carcase Classification and Price reporting Annual Reports

Report on a modification trial of the Mechanical Beef Classification System currently in use in Ireland

Carcase Presentation Non-Compliance 2019

To date in 2019 officers from the Carcase Classification Division conducted over 580 inspections across 32 factories and over 50,000 carcasses were inspected.

During these inspections, officers also monitored compliance with the EU reference carcase presentation specification. To date in 2019, there has been non-compliance found with the carcase trim specification in relation to three carcases in a single plant.

Factory

Number of non-compliant carcasses

Kavanagh Meats, Enniscorthy

3

Any compensation payments made to a Farmer Supplier, including in relation to issues such as this, are a matter between the Farmer/Supplier and the Processor/plant.

Procedure for appealing classification grades in manual factories

FAQs