Pretending there is a queue of cattle is the oldest buying trick in the book, says NBA.

UK - More beef finishers are going to have to sell their cattle more carefully if they are to survive the widening gap between costs of production and market income – and increasingly tight supplies should help.
calendar icon 20 November 2006
clock icon 2 minute read
So says the National Beef Association which despite recent improvements in slaughter cattle prices is alarmed at the persistent losses still faced by finishers and their failure to search out the highest prices when animals are ready to be cashed.

“The most obvious income problems are in the bottom half of England and Wales , explained NBA chairman Duff Burrell .

“Prime cattle averages confirm that R4L steers from these regions are 7p-10p a deadweight kilo cheaper than those in the North of England yet there is little resistance to the dominance of the biggest buyers in these areas and no real signs of urgency when it comes to discovering alternative outlets capable of paying better prices,” explained NBA chairman Duff Burrell .

According to the NBA some sellers are still allowing themselves to be conned by a handful of influential abattoirs into thinking there is an oversupply of cattle at the same time as others fed up with earning just 202p for a load of steers have found new customers willing to pay 212p for the same cattle as long as they travel further North.

“Panicking finishers into selling cheaply by dropping prices and giving the impression there are huge queues is the oldest buying trick in the book – but some feeders are still falling for it,” said Mr Burrell.

“Now that the end of October clear out of old chill room stocks is over and pre-Christmas buying has begun in earnest all slaughterers are working hard to find enough prime cattle to meet throughput targets.

“There are no genuine waiting lists or accurate reports of animals stuck in sheds because they cannot find a buyer. The NBA is aware that some companies may still be prepared to try and pull the cattle queue trick but sellers have every right to be genuinely angry if they do.”

“The best response is to make alternative, long term, arrangements in the North where competition for cattle is stronger. It may be that only the biggest finishers, those capable of putting together a full load of their own cattle can take advantage of this, but if enough of these make the right move supplies should tighten up behind them – and more people on the production side will lose less money.” News Desk
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