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Beef prices continue to give cause for concern

24 April 2020

SCOTLAND, UK - Market disruption caused by Covid-19 continues to see farmgate prices for prime Scotch beef languish at an unsustainable level.

Efforts across the whole chain are firmly focussed on keeping butchers and major retailers well-stocked with home-produced beef and fresh impetus has been given to promotional campaigns around high value cuts like roasts and steaks to secure better carcase balance in sales.

NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick said: "First and foremost, it is important to recognise the considerable time and effort put in by NFUS, Scottish Government, Institute of auctioneers, wholesalers and the retail end that has kept the beef supply chain open in these unprecedented times, albeit having to significantly readjust to the overnight loss of food service and catering outlets for beef and the demands on all parts of the chain to ensure staff and customers remain safe and healthy.

"At farm level, the falling beef price is causing real concern and the sight of imported beef on supermarket shelves at the start of the crisis caused unbelievable anger. We immediately challenged those retailers responsible and we will hold them to their reassurances that such action was a one-off.

"The eight largest UK food retailers have all been contacted in the past few weeks, encouraging them to be creative in addressing the challenges of carcase balance following the reduction in sales of steak and roasting joints, and reminding them of their social responsibility to provide a route to market for domestic produce.

"First to respond was Marks and Spencer, stating unequivocally that its support for Scottish farming will not waiver and its longstanding commitment to UK agriculture will not change. A similar positive response from other retailers would be welcome.

"NFU Scotland has also written to the UK Government on the need for greater transparency in the beef sector, particularly emphasising the need for clarity on the wholesale value of every part of the carcase, stating that fairness without profiteering in the beef chain must be prioritised."

NFU Scotland Livestock Committee Chairman, Jimmy Ireland added: "Beef price volatility has been a constant and unacceptable feature of the trade for too long. The focus at this time remains firmly fixed on the country’s farmers and crofters playing their part in keeping the nation healthy and well-fed during this crisis and locally produced, tasty Scotch beef will be a big part of that.

"When we are ready to move into the recovery phase, then the Union’s Livestock committee has already pulled together its priorities and they build on the six-point plan for beef established last autumn.

"We must make the Scotch beef brand even stronger; we must give consideration to a greater promotional effort around this iconic product that builds on current campaigns; we need to further develop overseas markets for our premium beef and we need greater collaboration from producers as we look to deliver world-leading beef that consistently delivers on taste and generates fair and reliable returns back to producers."

TheCattleSite News Desk



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