By Tim Relf
FINISHED beef prices are starting to drift as the proportion of grass-fed cattle rises.
At Carlisle, the number of grass-fed cattle is starting to build and auctioneer David Holliday feels this is the main reason for the 2p drop in price over the week.
“The general run of cattle made just over 90p, but anything not properly finished could be 78p to 80p. We had a lot more cattle off grass, and buyers would be allowing for them not killing out quite as well as yard cattle,” said Mr Holliday.
At Lancaster, John Hughes agrees. Steers averaged 85.8p/kg, down 2p, and heifers 86.1p/kg, down 4p. Top prices were bulls 112p/kg, steers 105p/kg and heifers 108p/kg. Buyers were saying little, said Mr Hughes, other than that fores were difficult to move and they could not see things improving.
But at Hallworthy, Cornwall, Simon Alford reckoned things were marginally better. Even there, grass-fed cattle are a month late this year due to very unseasonal weather. But, against a background knowledge that as soon as prices do improve a little, the supermarkets will simply import more, he cannot see prices rising much.
And from York, James Stephenson reported trade “a shade better in most categories except for a few small fat heifers”. At York, some 90%-plus of the bulls and 70% of the other cattle forward are still from yards.
Meat and Livestock Commission figures show a weekly fall of 1.2p/kg for steers in 44 marts on Monday (20 July) to less than 90p/kg.
For this and other stories, see Farmers Weekly, 24-30 July, 1998