Scottish associations to join forces over beef marketing

The Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW) and the NFU Scotland (NFUS) are to work together in a bid to address the issues of price pressure and premium cattle losses.

According to the NFUS, recent pressure on beef prices has highlighted a range of issues that need to be looked at, such as the concentration of prime cattle coming forward; changing demand from the retail sector; and how to maintain a premium for Scotch Beef.

It is also keen to ensure beef finishers receive clear and consistent messages regarding the required weight and specification of cattle needed, and that these messages are received well in advance of peak periods of trading.

Nigel Miller, president, NFUS, said: “There is a lot of work going on right now to strike a deal on CAP implementation that ensures vulnerable sectors, like beef, are sheltered from business-changing cuts in support.

“While our beef sector has enjoyed a buoyant period in recent times, we need the market to be sending out the right signals, so that any confidence built up doesn’t quickly evaporate. Prices go up and down for many reasons and we need to better understand what is behind this.

The SAMW said it welcomed any involvement with the NFUS that would help correct negative market factors, such as the delivery to its members of overweight or over-fat cattle. However, it stipulated that talks would need to address all the issues faced by the industry over the past 12 months, across the UK, Ireland and Europe.

Alan McNaughton, president, SAMW, said: “Certainly in relation to the year-round sourcing of stock, there is no room for cattle to be lost to the premium Scotch industry, purely due to them not being produced to the required standards.

“The reality of the current situation, however, is that the industry across the whole of the UK and Ireland is experiencing a shift in the supply/demand balance, which has resulted in a lowering of prices in all countries.  

“The fact that even at today’s prices, Scotch meat is still the most expensive in Europe means that many member companies are still doing no more than marking time in their slow recovery from last year’s loss-making trade,” he said.

“An additional issue which cannot be ignored is that beef consumption continues to run at significantly lower levels than in the past, currently being some 7% down on this time last year,” added McNaughton.

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