Summer popularity of lamb Latest data confirming traders' reports of UK retail demand for beef as subdued but stable is MLC analyst Tony Fowler's new batch of price spread calculations. Working on the basis of an ex-farm price for cattle in August just 3p softer than a year earlier at 165p per kg deadweight and an average retail price down about 4p at 377p, Fowler reckons the crude margin for the multiples has hardly changed despite foot and mouth and producers' predictable allegations of profiteering. In the lamb category, it is possible to interpret the widening spread as more evidence of an unexpected improvement in consumer demand. More recent figures might seem less encouraging, but even in the summer shoppers were buying with more enthusiasm than market pundits, and the major retailers had anticipated at the beginning of the livestock disease crisis. The figures for bacon are encouraging, demonstrating buoyant demand at the end of the marketing chain. For pork, however, the widening spread reflects low raw material prices due to FMD but with a weak retail spend. {{MEAT }}

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