Stores are stocking more British meat

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More British beef and lamb is being stocked on the shelves of British supermarkets, new figures show, prompting a warm welcome by industry leaders.

The latest Eblex Beef and Lamb Watch survey, carried out in supermarkets during August 2011, shows that, based on stocks of packs in chiller cabinets, 83 per cent is produced in Great Britain.

The figure represents the highest level seen since the quarterly survey was started in its current form in August 2008.

Alistair Mackintosh, NFU livestock board chairman, said: “Our livestock farmers produce a product that is second to none and we are pleased to see that the major supermarkets are choosing to back British. There has been a consistent improvement in home sourcing of beef and we now look to see this commitment carry on into the future.

“We will remain vigilant on pack labelling including retailer support for the use of the Red Tractor logo, to ensure customers can continue to buy beef and lamb produced to leading standards of food safety and animal welfare.”

Beef farmers are currently experiencing a surge in prime cattle prices – leading some industry leaders to warn of the bubble bursting at some point and leave the market in peril. The market is being led by a worldwide lift in demand coupled with unusually tight global supplies.

National Beef Association chairman Oisin Murnion said it was not unnatural for beef specialists to feel nervous about a sudden loss in market confidence which might leave them some hugely expensive cattle and no way of recovering all their outlay.

“However they can be reassured that swiftly expanding economies in China, Brazil and India, are soaking up all the spare beef the world can produce and Russia, which is the world’s biggest importer, continues to be desperate to buy as much beef as possible”

As a result there are no pockets of cheap beef on the global market that can be grabbed by UK supermarkets and used to lever down the price of domestic cattle.