Profit bounce for ANM Proof of a surge in consumer demand for beef since last summer comes from major Scottish slaughterer, processor and live cattle auctioneer ANM Group, which will shortly disclose details of a spectacular recovery in profit during the final quarter of 1999. Producer-controlled ANM's trading performance is a useful indicator of the overall beef market trend because its activities span a wider range of sectors than most of the other large meat companies. Its Scotch Premier abattoir has some supermarket business but retains an unfashionable focus on national distribution to specialist butchers and caterers, while Yorkshire Premier pioneered the supply of very high quality manufacturing beef to further processors including ready meal makers. Until about four months ago ANM executives were telling the familiar story of trade at best steady and processing margins under severe pressure, partly because heavy disposals of surplus beef from UK intervention stores were crushing forequarter prices. "The market had been very difficult, but it suddenly took off in September," chief executive Brian Pack told The Grocer on Wednesday. Scotch Premier had been losing money, but in the final quarter earnings more than compensated for the deficit in the first nine months. When Pack discloses figures for the financial year ended December 31 he will report an improved annual outcome reflecting increased autumn sales and profits for all major divisions of the diversified group, which in 1998 earned a group trading profit of £250,000 on turnover of £72 million (although business closure costs caused a pre-tax loss). The simultaneous recovery in results from both the cattle auction and beef processing sides of the business is significant because it demonstrates demand filtering through from end-markets. High cattle prices are often a symptom of processors bidding for scarce stock at the expense of margin, but in the latest period slaughter stock numbers, cattle prices and beef output prices were strong together. {{MEAT }}