The British National Farmers Union (NFU) beef group has issued an alert calling on the whole of the supply chain to back British beef farmers, as prices continue to fall below the cost of production.
NFU livestock board chairman Alistair Mackintosh said, the current situation had been compounded by Defra’s Farm Income forecasts which didn’t make for pleasant reading for beef producers. Incomes were expected to fall significantly this year. Feed, fuel and fertiliser had seen a sharp rise and this trend was likely to continue, Mackintosh went on.
Beef prices at their current level were unsustainable - prices were nowhere near the cost of production and farmers were currently receiving on average just 48% of the final retail price for their beef, chairman Mackintosh added. One understood the current economic situation faced by consumers, and the pressure on retailers to provide cheap food, but the UK livestock sector was facing a most serious challenge with producers questioning their future in the industry.
Less and less would retailers be able to fill the gap with foreign beef, he said. This supply simply wasn’t guaranteed – production in Ireland looked like they were set to fall and prices of beef from Brazil were on par with some countries in Europe; less beef was being exported.
The NFU was calling for processors and retailers to provide producers with fair and sustainable prices in order to ensure the viability of the industry, the chairman made clear. Great Britain had a product that was second to none in the world and if abattoirs and retailers want to guarantee their supply of British beef for their customers into the future they must act now, Mackintosh concluded.