Scottish farmers’ share of the supermarket beef price is at the lowest level for five years, according to new figures.
The average retail price of beef in Scotland was 709p/kg in July – 27% higher than at the start of 2010.
But the Scottish farmers’ share of that retail price fell from a high point of 62% last summer to 48% today.
Farmgate beef prices have plummeted in the past 12 months, with the GB all-steers deadweight price falling more than 75p/kg by the start of July.
For the whole of the UK, the farmer share of the on-shelf price averaged 47.6% in 2010, hit 59.4% in the second quarter of 2013 and slumped to 51.3% this March.
NFU Scotland president Nigel Miller said he was concerned the inevitable price correction after 2013’s historic highs was being exploited by retailers to squeeze more margin out of the market for themselves.
“This short-term mindset of major retailers, where immediate profit drives the decision-making process, runs the risk of pushing cattle off Scottish farms and reducing the supply of our iconic grass-fed product,” he said.
“That margin grab is a doubled-edged sword. Figures show that public expenditure on beef is broadly static. Given that retail prices are going up, this means the public are taking home less beef.
“It would be a far more positive approach were retailers to use that increased margin to more fairly reward producers at the sharp end and more actively promote Scotch beef to the consumer to help grow the market.”
Cattle prices have shown signs of stability in the past month.
The all-steers deadweight price has crept up to 331.4p/kg, after bottoming out at 326.9p/kg in the week ending 5 July.
In the marts, the average liveweight price for steers climbed back to 186.02p/kg after sliding to 175.83p/kg in mid-June.