Tesco Ireland has said it is to maintain the same price it is paying for beef up until June of this year.

The company said that it is "very conscious" of the pressure which beef farmers are under with beef prices falling at factory gates and says it wants to offer support to farmers.

Retailers here buy around 5% of the beef produced in Ireland and Tesco is one of the biggest retail buyers of Irish beef.

"These are unprecedented times for everyone and it makes sense to honour the market conditions for beef as they were pre-Covid-19 in January of this year," said the company's commercial director Joe Manning. "Beef farmers, as a very busy and critical essential service at this time, need to be supported. 

"We want to support our beef farming families by continuing to pay the same price to our processors for the next three months, as it has been since the start of 2020 when Covid-19 wasn't a factor."

Tesco buys its meat from the large processors here, many of which have significantly reduced cattle prices in the last few weeks. 

The move will increase pressure on them to maintain prices despite the vast bulk of their trade disappearing as a result of the food service sector practically closing down across Europe and exports being affected.

Tesco buys product from 480 Irish food suppliers every year and says in doing so it supports 13,000 farming families.