29 November 1996

Beef must be promoted

By Tim Relf

MERELY shrinking beef production, without stimulating demand, has been dubbed "immoral" by the Meat and Livestock Commissions director general, Colin Maclean.

A sustained campaign tackling demand could reduce industry shrinkage from about 15% to less than 10%, he told journalists at Smithfield this week.

Repeating his call to government for financial assistance, he highlighted the success of the recent mince promotion. At a cost of £3.5m, this had saved £120m worth of intervention spending.

But all this years funds had been spent, he said, except that reserved for a burger campaign.

Further recovery of consumption was also in the interest of lamb and pork producers, added Mr Maclean, with beef prices the benchmark by which others are set.

Elsewhere at Smithfield, NFU policy director Ian Gardiner, also criticised supply-control measures.

"The calf slaughter scheme could be over-successful and lead to a beef shortage late next year." Intervention, he declared non-sensical. "It is producing stocks which will overhang the market and restrain recovery. We should be looking for the market to determine the price and use taxpayers funds to top up incomes."n

OMfrom BEEF

MLCs Colin Maclean: looking for a market-led solution.