A whole chain approach is crucial to driving UK beef breeding forward, according to Maurice Bichard, visiting research fellow from the University of Reading.

“We need to get breeders to unite rather than compete and processors and retailers need to work with stakeholders to formulate clear goals. And please make geneticists an integral part of your team.

“At the moment we have a group of elite breeders acting independently to decide what makes the top bulls – can we not create a more efficient way?”

He said the industry would benefit from having a beef chain and someone in charge. “In effect the chain would be in charge. All players would work out priorities and communicate between each other.

“You might think I am behind the times, with processor, retailer and consumer chains like Dovecote and Waitrose, but these need to become more proactive.”

There was also a need to reduce resource use and environmental impact throughout the chain and place a greater emphasis on selecting for different traits like disease resistance.

“If elite breeders won’t use indexes, then they should be replaced by those that do – if we don’t, the UK beef industry will become less competitive,” he stressed.