Beef Sector In Danger Of Mincing Itself To Death

UK - The beef sector is in danger of mincing itself to death, according to the National Beef Association (NBA).
calendar icon 18 March 2010
clock icon 2 minute read

The latest Kantar Worldpanel consumer survey shows that fresh mince, which is the cheapest product retailed, and averages only around £4.00 a kilo, even if the premium price range is included, accounts for exactly 50 per cent of fresh beef sales.

The top priced cuts are steaks and roasting joints, which can cost the consumer £17-£19 a kilo – but these only make up 36 per cent of the retail beef on offer.

If stewing steak, which is the only other cut listed in one of the industry’s main price check inventories – and which retails at only £7-£8 a kilo is included, the lowest priced cuts account for almost exactly two thirds of sales.

“This is not good news for farmers, or anyone else in the beef industry, because mince sales are visibly increasing on an annual basis and the sector has no chance of prospering if sales focus even more heavily on its cheapest product,” explained NBA director Kim Haywood.

“More retail imagination is needed if the industry is to overcome the dire income shortage which threatens to suffocate large sections of its supply system.”

“Finishers are struggling to cover feed costs, breeders are still not able to earn enough from the market to make them feel confident about continuing to keep expensive suckler cows, and processor margins are strained because the beef they pack is not able to generate more income at retail level.”

“Mince sales may be booming because it is versatile, convenient, and a principal ingredient of popular quick dishes like lasagne, spaghetti bolognese, chilli con carne, shepherds pie or burgers.”

“But the evolution of mince as a first choice purchase for people unsure of purchasing other more expensive beef cuts is not a success story. If the beef sector is to survive in a recognisable form, and then flourish, it must sell a bigger proportion of the carcase, than it does now, for much more money.”

“Mainstream multiple retailers must consider how they can market beef more creatively other than the current routine of offering mince, stewing beef, steak cuts and roasting joints.”

Some prominent companies say they are already copying craft retail butchers who have been more imaginative by selling appropriate forequarter cuts for steaks instead of mincing it all.

“However introducing a much needed burst of imagination into the product range of beef is not the province of the farmers but of multiple retailers and their supplies. They themselves must realise that if they allow mince sales to march ever onwards, without enticing some consumers with better value alternatives, the beef industry will never prosper.”

TheCattleSite News Desk

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