Future rosy for British beef

The future is looking bright for Britain's beef producers as consumers spend more on beef while domestic supplies fall, said the National Beef Association (NBA).

Statistics from the AHDB Meat Services and the Livestock & Meat Commission show that less beef will be produced over the next two years and the UK will export more and import less.

With consumers spending 8% more money than a year ago on beef to cook at home, the NBA said this promised significant future prices rises, although statistics did find a worrying increase in breeding cow disposals.

NBA director Kim Haywood said: "British abattoirs have confirmed that, between January and August, cow throughput increased by 20% compared with the same period last year and an additional 7,450 cows, many of them sucklers capable of breeding more calves, were killed.

"The Association is aware that many beef farmers are under short-term cash pressure that is not being helped by the unexpected easing of slaughter cattle prices over the last three weeks. However we would nevertheless urge them to take a long-term view and recognise that this autumn could be a good time to hold on to breeding stock because important market trends are moving firmly in their favour."

The NBA said that retail surveys conducted over the three months to 6 October show that even though total sales were down by 6% compared with the same period last year, and more consumers turned to mince and stewing beef, the cash total spent on fresh beef to cook at home rose by 8% to £374.4m.

Haywood added: "In these circumstances it reasonable to think that too many breeding cows have already been taken out of the system and that every female that can produce a calf that will be processed in 2010-2011 will be needed."