8 November 1996

Prime cattle in demand too

PRIME beef prices have risen in recent weeks, partly justifying the confidence of suckled calf buyers.

Monday markets saw an all-steers average of over 101p/kg. As recently as the beginning of October, this had stood at 93.4p/kg.

Intervention buying, and the seasonal tightening of numbers – with supplies of grass-fed cattle dropping and yarded cattle yet to come forward in any number – have contributed, says John Uffold, auctioneer at Ludlow, Shropshire.

He saw steers level at 104.2p/kg on Monday. But while values of the best cattle have risen sharply, dragging overall averages up, half-meated sorts continue to come forward, resulting in a distinct two-tier market.

But Mr Uffold is doubtful as to whether any further increases are imminent. "More imports would be encouraged as a result," he says.

As elsewhere, farmers are timing marketings of such stock to beat the 30-month-age point, rather than based on condition or finish.

Growing demand for beef is an important factor behind the rising trade, according to the MLC.

And by the end of the year, the over 30-month cull will have diverted about 300,000 animals out of the human food chain, adds the MLC.