27 March 1998

Auctions aim for quality report

AUCTION markets throughout the country are being asked to report prime cattle prices on the basis of quality, as well as by weight.

The move is part of a live auction fight against the growing number of supermarket beef clubs, and the stated aim of the supermarkets to procure their full requirements direct from farm.

Up to 30 main markets have introduced quality price reporting. John Martin, secretary of the Livestock Auctioneers Association, hopes others will quickly join to ensure a large enough sample to justify the widespread publication of a weekly average based on quality.

The auctioneers intend to show a premium over average market price, as used to persuade farmers to join beef clubs, may be non-existent. They expect to show feeders may well do better in the open market.

In Yorkshire, several leading markets are reporting an additional average for cattle within the supermarket quality bands (U and R up to fat class 4) which reflects the current 10-15p/kg differential.

Once a system has been agreed, the Meat and Livestock Commission will be asked to publish a quality price alongside its weekly average price. The MLC is understood to be sympathetic to the request. &#42

Alan Barker