LOCAL MARKETS are vital if farmers are to add value to their beef, according to Richard Phelps of Southern Counties Fresh Foods.

But exports need to be built to prevent an oversupply of commodity beef after the removal of the Over-30-Months Scheme.

“There is a great demand for beef and a great opportunity as beef will be undersupplied globally,” he told delegates at the Beef and Growing Cattle South West event at Hatherleigh Market, Devon.

Production and marketing needed to be segregated to ensure that producers could add value to the best quality beef by selling it to local markets, said Mr Phelps.

And the industry needed to start developing export markets for the future. “The timing is right now, as we will have time to put things into place.”

Export sales were likely to be in the form of selected cuts of meat rather than whole carcasses, he said, and the outlook for developing markets was positive.