11 April 1997

Beef price rise after EU move

FINISHED cattle prices about-turned this week, after the largest acceptance of British beef into intervention this year.

Brussels has agreed to take in 4938t of steer beef at prices up to 191p/kg, and 660t of bull beef at up to 182p/kg, subject to the maximum carcass limit of 360kg.

Although this tonnage is to be spread over the next three weeks, instead of the usual two, meat traders were surprised at the volume accepted. As such, they will be looking to source about 15,500 animals, or 20% of the national kill.

Prices shot up in marts this week. MLC sample markets in England and Wales reported steers up 6p to 100p/kg lw on Tuesday, with young bulls up 2p to 98p/kg. Only heifers continued to languish, at just 94p/kg.

But sex is not the only factor. Ludlow market reports a two-tier market emerging on the basis of weight. "The intervention weight has been reduced to 360kg and anything likely to die above this is worth considerably less money," said a spokesman. &#42