8 December 1995

Store prices

fall as bad press bites

By Tim Relf

STORE cattle prices have fallen, as the effects as the weaker finished beef market are felt.

The all-weights, all-breeds average steer price in the week ending Nov 25 plunged over 12p/kg to 118.1p/kg. And this was followed by a further fall to 117.3p/kg in the seven days to Dec 2.

The combined effects of BSE publicity and the ongoing cattle offal handling levy dispute are now being reflected around store rings, says auctioneer John Hughes at Lancaster.

"Some people have in mind the eventual finished price when they are deciding what to pay for stores. But most buy to replace fat cattle they have just sold. And there is, therefore, a close link between both sets of prices," he says.

Long-keep cattle, in particular, have been hit, says Mr Hughes. And with continuing bad BSE publicity and competition from poultrymeat, trade shows no immediate sign of improving, he suggests.

Auctioneer Brian Rogerson at Hexham has seen values fall £20-£30 a head in the past few weeks. But prices had been very dear, with strong bullocks in the 450-550kg weight range, making up to £750.

Long-keep stock are affected because the uncertainty over their finished price is greatest; and those nearly at slaughter weight directly reflect fat prices, he says.

The national weakening of store prices comes after a period of prolonged increases, when prices were consistently above last years levels. Charolais, in particular, were selling well, with values at the end of last month over 17p/kg up on the same time in 1994.

Overall, however, prices remain about 2p/kg above their level of 12 months ago. &#42