15 December 1995

Beef gloom-


By Tim Relf

CONTINENTAL calf prices have slumped as the effect of the depressed beef trade continues to be felt.

Charolais bulls, for example, were making about £190 on Monday. Two weeks before, £230 had been more typical.

Some of these animals may be two years away from finishing, but there is a "passing down the line" of the weaker beef trade into stores and calves, says auctioneer John Pullin at Gloucester.

At Northampton, auctioneer Keith Rose agrees the rearer-buyers are holding back until the BSE controversy has settled. He saw Belgian Blues particularly affected on Saturday, with prices going no higher than £176.

"Beef prices are not going to jump back up to their previous levels in one go," says Mr Rose. "It will more likely be a slow process of small, periodic increases. And so buyers are reluctant to spend, say £250, on a young animal when they dont know when these improvements will be seen."

Black-and-white values, meanwhile, have stayed steady at Northampton. Strong, thick-backed sorts have been making to £120; middle quality stock £80; and the smallest £35 to £45. Such levels will hold, suggests Mr Rose.

At Gloucester, too, a reasonable export demand has helped support bidding. Numbers have also fallen seasonally, says Mr Pullin. But there could be more forward next Monday.

But Friesian bulls fell £43 last week (Dec 6) at Holsworthy to average £65. Auctioneer Arthur Rowland says disruption to one of the ferries caused by mechanical problems did not help.

And industrial action in France – where two-thirds of the markets male black-and-whites are destined for – is also a factor, he adds.