British beef prices drop to five-year low

Chris Mallon, Chief Executive of the National Beef Association (NBA).
Chris Mallon, Chief Executive of the National Beef Association (NBA).

A national farming group has called on retailers to take action as beef prices hit a five-year low.

Chief executive of the National Beef Association (NBA) Chris Mallon has issued the call, saying that while beef prices have dropped, the retail price has remained relatively static, with a one to two per cent increase.

“I keep getting told there is a lack of retail demand and because of that the processors have to reduce the price the farmer gets for his beef,” said Mr Mallon.

“The idea of price fatigue amongst consumers is often mentioned, i.e. beef is just too expensive. This would hold more water if retail price had moved downwards with the cattle price, but it has not.”

He added: “The truth is retail price has moved up 1 per cent, whilst on-farm prices have been slowly, week by week, coming back to a point where farmers are getting around 46 per cent or less of retail price.

“We believe there is room for retailers to bring back shelf price and stimulate sales.”

The NBA has complained that recent in-store marketing of beef has been “either abysmal or non-existent”, saying British beef has been poorly displayed and price promotions have focused mainly on imported beef.

It has urged more promotion of the product.

Mr Mallon said: “Family farms do not have the ability to continue to subsidise falling supermarket profits any longer.

“Retailers need to give a fair share – 54 per cent of the retail price – to the producer, market the product better and more clearly, and most importantly, stop controlling and interfering in the businesses of their suppliers.

“The continual interest in our cost of production is for one reason and that is to continue driving the value of our stock downwards.”

The National Beef Association is recognised as the cattle industry’s consultative body. It aims to preserve and improve the general standard of cattle in the UK by promoting and encouraging the breeding of beef cattle.