December 22, 2011


UK beef farmers to have promising future


For the next 10 years, a global scarcity of quality beef would mean a bright future for domestic producers, according to the message given to specialist farmers at the annual Beef Carcass Show hosted by St Merryn Foods at Bodmin.


The prediction was delivered by procurement director John Dracup, who pledged increased support to his firm's producers. But there were challenges to be met, he said - not least CAP reform, where St Merryn Foods would be looking for greater support for the beef and lamb sectors.


He added that moves for full cost recovery for the Food Standards Agency should be opposed with vigour at the current negotiations. Dracup said the beef market had moved dramatically in the past year, with a strong improvement in prices.


But now consumers were becoming "discount junkies" he said, with the recession causing them to buy cheaper cuts, smaller portions, or less frequently, but still expecting high quality.


Finishing cattle under 24 months old was becoming a criterion for the retail buyers, which was one reason St Merryn had introduced a new prices texting service to its farmers on a weekly basis.


After the success of a pilot scheme, he said it would now be rolled out to 12,000 producers, helping greater productivity and quality throughout the whole system.


Tesco beef buyer John Driscoll told the audience that there was a conundrum between customers buying less and cheaper and still wanting top quality which was not easy to equate.

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