By FWi staff

MIXED feelings are being expressed about the tentative rise in bull prices following last months fall.

The swift fall of 4p/kg down to an average of 88p/kg at the end of May followed a leading retailers decision to hold back from bull beef following supply problems.

The market looked unsettled.

The past month has allowed a sense of normality to return, say traders.

However, the steady rise in values which are now back to an average of almost 90p/kg is thought to have come from increased interest by wholesale butchers and independent retailers.

As one of the biggest centres, Newark market saw over 260 bulls entered last Wednesday to return an average of 97p/kg.

Auctioneer Paul Gentry believes the trade is still sorting itself out, but principal buyers are still accounting for the majority of cattle, he says.

Quality still strongly influences the market.

An increase in the number of plainer Friesian bulls suppressed trade at Ludlow for the weekly entry of 150 head.

Prices were back just over 2p/kg this week to level at 90p/kg as a result, although anecdotal evidence suggests values like-for-like for quality havent moved at all.

Producers could be helping themselves, adds Market Drayton-based David Brettell.

More bulls are needed with a farm assurance ticket to meet buyers requirements.

Although the repeat fee for registration at 90 a year is unpalatable, it can make between 5-7p/kg difference on the sale ticket, he warns.

Although supplies of beef have eased with the switch between over-wintered, yarded cattle and grass-finished stock drawing near, there is still concern that supplies will rise eventually, adding pressure to a vulnerable market.