Better times forecast for beef farmers next year

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Beef farmers can expect a more settled 12 months ahead, according to Chris Mallon, president of the National Beef Association.

This year has been something of a roller coaster ride for producers, he said, with the start of 2014 marred by 70p per kg falls in the beef price.

Tesco’s attempt to cut costs was a major contributory factor in the price reduction, he said, while an increase in the number of Irish cattle coming on to the market and the strength of the pound affected export prices.

However, after eight months of losses, farmers are beginning to see slow gains which have picked up speed, Mr Mallon said, adding: “Beef price is always dictated by the supply: demand ratio in the UK, Europe and the world. After a pretty poor start in the beef price world, it turned out to be a very good farming year. Finishers in particular had severe cash flow difficulties in the first half of the year but this has turned itself around.

“Weather-wise, after a very slow start, we had one of the best summers and autumns. The grass has been phenomenal and the stock has performed very well. People have been bringing calves in to wean and they are 60 kilos heavier than at the same time last year.

“Store cattle this autumn have not hit the heights per kilo wise, but the price per head has been a record for this time of year.”

Mr Mallon said 2015 was a fresh opportunity for retailers to look at how they support British beef farmers.

“Supermarkets that sell fresh British beef must be congratulated, however we would like to see more commitment and support from the other major supermarkets to display and sell more beef with the British banner clearly labelled.”