The sharp fall in beef prices over the past 12 months has led to an investigation into the industry’s future in Wales.

The directors of Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) – Meat Promotion Wales – have launched a review across the whole supply chain after the average British deadweight price for steers dropped more than 40p/kg in the past 12 months.

One Welsh producer told Farmers Weekly his abattoir had taken 5p or 10p off each week in the past month, and this week he had been offered 320p/kg for his cattle, far short of the British average of 352.8p/kg.

He said he was making about £200 less a head compared to last December, when prices started to slide more dramatically.

Farm leaders across the UK have complained that the plummeting deadweight price would not encourage farmers to buy more stock and could threaten the sector’s future, as the suckler herd was already shrinking about 3% year on year.

HCC chief executive Gwyn Howells said the industry body would be looking at all the options to maintain a strong Welsh beef herd.

“It is in everyone’s interests – farmers, processors and retailers – to have a thriving beef industry in this country to satisfy the growing demand for high-quality, home-grown beef,” he said. “All sections of the supply chain should work in harmony to achieve this aim.

“We would encourage retailers to take a strategic view and collaborate with their partners in the UK supply chain to ensure a viable and sustainable long-term future for our beef industry.”