Beef market strong, but not without challenges, find Asda/ABP

09 January, 2013

Beef supply in the UK and worldwide is set to stay strong, the agricultural manager for ABP Stuart Roberts has said.

Speaking at an Asda/ABP Beef Link producer group meeting in Ludlow earlier this week, Roberts said the current shortage of beef across the world was not likely to change worldwide demand in the long run, as demand for beef was still rising.

He said: “Production in every major beef-producing region is currently at 2007 production levels and this is unlikely to change. The UK saw a peak in production in 2011, but this dropped again in 2012 and the outlook is for production in 2013 to be similar to last year.

“Add in to this that Asian consumers are eating more and more red meat, and it is easy to see why the outlook is positive.”

However, Roberts also explained that worldwide beef supply and demand could be seen as both a positive as well as a negative. Adding: “Supply and demand are very closely balanced over the next few years, but this doesn’t allow for any unforeseen events, such as major disease outbreaks or climatic events. I believe it is quite a dangerous position for the industry to be in.”

The long-term global outlook may be positive, but Roberts also spoke of a retail market that would not be without its challenges during the next 12 months. Regarding this, beef buyer for Asda Amy Austin hastened to add that customers were “heavily” focused on price in 2012 and that there was little sign of this changing in 2013.

She said Asda was therefore helping shoppers through these challenging times by developing a range of new beef products aimed at cost and time. “This year will see the launch of a range of fixed-weight and fixed-price roasting joints, with the aim of helping time-pressed shoppers prepare meals in a known time period,” Austin said. “These fixed-priced joints will also help people understand meat pricing better.”

According to Austin, shoppers are often confused when they see a price/kg and a pack price on meat packaging. She said that by providing a “straightforward pricing structure”, the confusion would clear up, as well as help the cost-conscious customer know exactly what their shopping would cost.

“In addition to these developments, we’ll also be introducing more shopper education to stores to help them understand how to use cheaper cuts and get the most enjoyment possible from the beef they buy in our stores,” she added.

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