AIMS urges higher value beef focus

In a response to the National Beef Association’s assertion that beef prices have reached a five-year low (meatinfo.co.uk, 11 April), Norman, Bagley, head of policy at the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS), disagrees and argues that a shift in focus to higher-value areas of the market is the necessary course of action:

Association of Independent Meat Suppliers
Association of Independent Meat Suppliers

“Prices are not at a five-year low, so the National Beef Association’s (NBA’s) comments are inaccurate. They are, however, a little back on the five-year average. Is it good for producers? Of course not, but let us look at alternatives rather than continually moaning about supermarkets, which are mainly mince-orientated now.  

“We have to look for higher-value markets – for example, high-end pubs and restaurants selling high-quality cuts and gourmet burgers (at up to £15 a kick)! Serving this burgeoning market are independent catering butchers with top-quality beef products and the new world of next-day delivery, with which the largest institutional catering suppliers find it difficult to compete. Quality and exceptional service offer a powerful message.  

“These are expanding markets. The major retailers are probably a declining market and are more focused on survival than propping up the beef trade.

“We need to stop worrying about what the supermarkets are doing and start concentrating on where the real growth is at the higher-value end of the market. Out-of-home eating is where it is at.

“The Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has a huge role to play in further promoting the Quality Standard Mark, which is widely recognised for its quality aspects and which, underpinned by strong farm-based assurance standards, has to play a vital role in enhancing the growing independent catering butchery sector. AHDB needs to ensure that the next part of the business beyond slaughtering and cutting – which is catering – is where they should be concentrating their efforts. Over time, this should lead to better prices for the producer and, hopefully, a more sustainable future for beef production over the long term.
 
“Exports, too, should start to recover now that the currency is looking much more favourable.”

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