The NFU has called for the beef supply chain to work together to improve producer confidence and ensure long-term supplies are not affected by higher costs and recent price falls.

The average GB R4L steer price slipped again this week to 281.2p/kg deadweight from 283.7p/kg/dw last week. Although that was still relatively good compared with the 216p/kg/dw last year, NFU livestock board chairman Alistair Mackintosh said processors had to realise that beef producers had not seen extra returns because of higher costs, particularly feed, fuel and fertiliser.

“Indications point to a global shortage of beef and, as a result, I would expect prices to remain firm in the long term,” he said. “However, in recent weeks we have seen a seasonal oversupply of cattle which has led to downward price pressure. We, as producers, need to carefully consider how and when we market our stock as continued short-term oversupply will place even more pressure on the existing price.

But he said it was also “imperative” that processors provided the industry with the right signals to invest and recognised that negative prices could hit long-term supply.