National Beef Association urges export push

The National Beef Association (NBA) is urging processors to develop export markets in the wake of under-pricing by the major supermarket groups.

The Association believes that an excessive focus on selling product to the largest retailers is killing off home production because neither breeders nor feeders are unable to bridge the gap between production costs and income.

According to the NBA, there are new outlets for UK beef in the EU market. Exports are up 16% this year to 47,000 tonnes in the first six months of 2010, but the NBA believes that the potential to increase exports further based on the quality and value of UK beef is sizeable.

NBA chairman Oisin Murnion commented: "The beef industry is being suffocated because of the lack of competition with the biggest domestic supermarkets for prime cattle. The multiples are therefore enjoying an iron grip on supply - and the absence of any meaningful purchasing challenge allows them to continue with discount led, domestic, retail policies which permanently undermine the value of the farmer’s product."

“The extra income that is passed back to producers as a result of this much needed competition will ensure future supplies for both the domestic and export markets," said Murnion. “Export competition forces multiples to pay more because home produced beef will be harder to find and they know the majority of their customers are not satisfied with imports," he added.

"Some processors may be reluctant to re-start export sales because they know that widening their market will lift cattle prices and put them on a collision course with their bargain seeking, supermarket, customers," Murnion said.

"But this pressure must be ignored. Processors must seize profitable export opportunities and if the multiples are allowed to continue to under-price UK beef as much as they are at present they will force processors out of existence because farmers simply cannot cover their costs at today’s prices,” Murnion added.

>> More export markets for beef producers claims Eblex

>> National Beef Association slams retailers for beef approach

>> Oisin Murnion is new National Beef Association chairman


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