November 3, 2003
UK Promotes Premium Beef Production To Compete Head-On With Imports
Beef needs to be produced and promoted as a premium product to compete with imports, according to Robert Forster, chief executive of the National Beef Association in the United Kingdom.
He was speaking after the recent Farmers Weekly Battle of the Beef competition, which highlighted the quality of traditionally reared beef.
He said: "Farmers are disappointed that their meat is being offered as a low value, mass-produced product.
"They would like it to be presented in the best possible light and the industry would be better served if it could be sold onto higher value markets."
UK farmers could not compete on price with imports from third world countries and even other EU markets, due primarily to high costs involved, said Mr Forster.
"But whenever we have suggested that beef can be turned into a super-value product we have been told that mature beef is a niche market and mocked for being too ambitious."
But the success of Sainsbury's extra mature Taste the Difference range of beef, launched this summer and the first 21-day hung beef to be sold in a major supermarket, proved that a strong demand for the product existed, he said.
Jonathan Birnie, Sainsbury's partnership in livestock manager, said sales of the beef had gone over 5m sterling pound, or 600,000 packs so far , which equates to more than 10% of the store's beef market.
Despite the multiples entering the mature beef market, Mr Forster said there was room for everybody.
"The more people enjoying quality beef the more secure the industry will be."