Calls for beef farmers to receive fair share of margins

National Farmers’ Union (NFU) Scotland has called for cattle farmers to get a fairer share of the retail price of beef. 

The market has experienced volatility in recent weeks, with prices tumbling. The average deadweight price for steers is now 32p per kilogram lower than it was the same week last year. However, retail prices for beef remain static said NFU Scotland. 

“Many shoppers buying quality Scotch beef will be surprised to know that more than half the money they are paying is going to retailers and processors and the share going back to the farmer producing the beef is falling,” commented Charlie Adam, NFU Scotland livestock chairman.

For the week ending 20 February, the average deadweight price for steers in Scotland was 340p/kg. During the same week for 2015, the price was 372p/kg.

“This is a worrying start to the year and we do not want to see the price for beef drop any further,” added Adam. “There is a justifiable concern among farmers that the amount of money being fed down from the consumer isn’t enough.”

According to the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), the retail price for beef has been hovering around £7/kg for the last six months. As a result, beef farmers are getting less than half the money that consumers are spending when they buy beef.

“The falling price comes at a time when the industry is working hard to bolster sales,” said Adam.

“QMS [Quality Meat Scotland] is running its Scotch beef promotion during February and March. We hope this will not only stimulate demand for Scotch Beef heading into the spring but, more importantly, also build the price going back to farmers.

“NFU Scotland members have also been rolling up their sleeves and doing their bit for meat consumption at supermarket stores in recent weeks. From Inverness to Dumfries, we have been promoting Scottish produce at Aldi stores, convincing the consumer to buy Scottish, and there are more events planned in the coming weeks.”

Adam commented that the livestock committee was organising a number of auction mart meetings to speak directly to beef finishers about the impact of poor prices on their businesses and what the union could do to assist.

“Given the integrated structure of the Scottish beef industry – which involves both calf producers and finishers – it is crucial that all get a profitable return for their efforts during this difficult time.”

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