THE RETAIL price of beef could be increased by 20% without any repercussions, according to the National Beef Association.

Robert Robinson, NBA chairman, said if Tesco and Asda did not give up their price war then it would be impossible for UK farmers and processors to stay in business.

Supermarkets had cut prices to the point that nobody in the supply chain was making any money, he warned.

Yet food strategists acknowledged that beef was such a strong product it could absorb a 20% retail price rise “without blinking”.

“Everyone in the UK industry would like to see price rises on that scale very quickly because it is the only way its future can be secured,” he said.
 
“They [the supermarkets] are risking domestic supply security if they continue to be short-sighted about squeezing all hope of profit out of the UK food chain system.”

Mr Robinson said if retailers wanted to fight it out on price they should stick to high margin, manufactured goods and avoid low margin, domestic, food products.