24 October 1997

Dim prospect for beef prices

BEEF prices remain under pressure, with steers slipping further on Monday to average 96.43p/kg.

And the message from the Meat and Livestock Commission is dont expect much improvement in the coming months, despite the tightening availability of cattle.

Farmers have upped feed rates and pushed stock on quickly during the summer, anticipating weaker autumn values, contributing to the now-limited supplies, says the MLC.

The calf slaughter scheme, which began in May 1996, is also a factor. In 1997 alone, more than 446,000 calves have been processed under the scheme.

But intervention buying is doing little to shore up the trade. Last Fridays adjudication saw 165t of steer meat accepted out of a tendered quantity of 472t.

Plus, a rise in throughputs has occurred at Irish meat export plants. And slaughterings, according to the MLC, are now at similar levels to those in May, when shipments to Britain were a factor in driving prices down to a 16-year-low.

Cumulative imports from the rest of the EU for the first six months of this year were 47,046t, up 67% on the same period of 1996.n