Welsh and British beef need supermarket support
19 May 2014 | By Barry Alston
AMID fears of a return to the days of direct farmer action, Farmers Union of Wales president, Emyr Jones, has written to the
main UK supermarkets pressing home the need to support Welsh and British beef through loyalty and sustainable prices.
Speaking at the weekend’s Royal Welsh Spring Festival, he said that falling cattle prices experienced over the first quarter
of 2014 had raised significant concerns within the cattle industry and it had been hoped that prices would return to more
sustainable levels as the year went on.
“But the continuing fall over the past six weeks has led to our offices being inundated with calls from farmers who are not
only losing money due to the low prices but also due to cancelled slaughterhouse bookings,” he added.
“There is growing frustration and anger within the industry and the fall in cattle prices is undermining much-needed
confidence at a time when it is in the interests of all those involved in the supply chain to secure long term commitments
from the industry.
“There is also real anger about the proportion of imported meat which is coming on to the UK market, undermining prices
and reducing throughputs in our abattoirs.”
According to the latest EBLEX/AHDB figures, average beef retail prices have not followed the downward trend experienced
by farmers, meaning the gap between farmgate and retail prices has widened.
“Such factors are severely undermining confidence in the long-term viability of an industry, the nature of which requires a
long-term commitment from breeders, store producers and finishers.
“Failure to secure such commitment by providing sustainable prices for cattle should be a major concern for all those
within the supply chain.”
Mr Jones’ letter urges the supermarkets to commit to the procurement of Welsh and British beef, and to ensuring prices
paid by suppliers or through direct contracts are such that confidence is revived.
“None of us wants to see a return to the type of conditions which prompted direct action against imports in the 1990s.” adds
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