Processors missing a trick abroad

The National Beef Association (NBA) has urged processors to not miss the boat on exports, with a shortfall of high-quality cuts in big beef-eating countries.

The industry body said it is worried that UK beef processors are concentrating too hard on the domestic market when there are major opportunities overseas.

NBA director Kim Haywood said: "The current grumble among processors and wholesalers is that the market for high-quality steak and strip loin is unusually weak, because domestic consumers have responded to the recession by focusing their attention on cheaper forequarter cuts and mince.

"However, a combination of short supplies on the Continent, and highly favourable euro-sterling exchange rates, means cuts that are in surplus domestically can be sold at good prices across a range of EU markets instead."

The NBA predicts that the surge in exports, which fuelled the 1992-1995 beef sales boom, could be repeated if processors change their focus. The association said that there is a wide acceptance that export demand for UK cow beef will continue to increase, but too few companies seem to have spotted the export opportunities that exist.

"Countries that were not interested in UK beef last year are actively looking for it now and it is all about balancing product outlets to retain margins. Weak sterling has always fuelled export booms and will do so again - especially as the EU cattle herd is shrinking with each year that passes," added Haywood.