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Increase Export Activity To Solve Carcase Balance

29 June 2010

UK - If domestic sales of beef are over-reliant on mince, which now accounts for 52 per cent of consumption, more effort must be made to restore carcase balance, and its accompanying lift in income, by selling higher priced roasts and steaks on to the export market.

This is the view being put forward by the National Beef Association for discussion by beef industry tacticians, sales promoters, and commercial operators because it is worried that current retail revenues are not generating enough money to keep processors and farmers in business.

“World and EU supplies of beef are tightening rapidly so there must be untapped demand in Europe for cuts taken from British cattle that the mince-dominated UK market finds difficult to sell,” explained NBA director, Kim Haywood.

“Before 1996 the UK beef industry thrived on the back of a buoyant export trade but at the moment too many of the big players appear content to see burgers, mince and sausage fly off the shelves while the appetite to re-establish compensatory sales through a resurgent export trade is disappointingly modest.”

NBA enquiries reveal that many processors still think export contracts which require regular, high volume, deliveries are too difficult to secure even though a slump in sales initiative means domestic demand for steaks and roasts is visibly dwindling at the same time as the single European market offers trading opportunities across more than a score of countries.

“The UK beef sector is dominated by big companies, some of whom use imports, which work day and night to meet huge supermarket orders which increasingly contain a disturbingly high proportion of mince,” said Ms Haywood.

“However salvation for all beef industry participants lies in working with EU neighbours to break this deadlock by creating new markets for the high priced cuts that are increasingly difficult to sell at home.”

“The Association is convinced that without wider markets for primary cuts it will be impossible to restore much needed carcase balance – although it would also add that an equal effort to create more retail interest in premium cuts is required on the home market too.”

“Too many consumers are worried about their ability to cook these properly and on top of that there are consistency issues about tenderness that are putting off valuable potential buyers too.”

“All of these issues need to be addressed on an industry-wide basis if the UK industry is to move forward in the way its farmer suppliers expect,” Ms Haywood added.

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