National Beef Association highlights value of Scottish beef

Beef farmers located on the Borders were told Scottish beef brands were well established tools that should be helping the country's industry to generate more income for farmers and processors through quality driven lifts in the retail price.

The message was passed on to producers by the National Beef Association's chief executive, Robert Forster, last night at the first of four NBA road shows.

Forster added that industry efforts to raise its earnings by highlighting the Scottish origin of its product, by using brands such as the Scottish beef brand and the Specially Selected Scotch label, were being thwarted by supermarket bosses who appeared determined to continue mixing high provenance Scotch beef with cheaper imports.

He described the mixing, or co-mingling, of beef from different countries of origin as the "new front line" in the long standing struggle to establish improved earnings for the hard pressed beef sector.

"Co-mingling confuses supermarket customers and makes it more difficult to establish higher prices for the Scottish product," Forster said.

He added that the regulators were also saying that if the Saltire, or other Scottish emblems, were used to frame a chill cabinet then the cabinet could only contain Scottish products.

However, Forster said that farmers who had already helped the NBA put complaints about co-mingling in front of local authorities knew that all these conditions had been regularly and flagrantly abused.

According to Forster the offending multiples have mounted a determined counter campaign to persuade the regulators to back off and allow co-mingling to continue.

"The NBA is very clear. If supermarket bullying tactics on product mixing continue, and the Association's efforts to force through test case prosecutions through environmental health officials are thwarted, it will take the issue both to the public and to all the UK's parliaments," Forster said.

The NBA's road shows continue next week with presentations at Castle Douglas on Monday (5 March), Dingwall on Tuesday (6 March) and Thainstone Centre on Wednesday (7 March).

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