18 February 2000

Call for more of the pie

FARMERS need to get a larger share of the value added to stock beyond the farm gate the NFUs Welsh Council was told.

President Hugh Richards insisted that while it was not the job of the union to favour live auctions, deadweight selling, producer groups or co-ops, it had a role providing the facts and figures that allowed producers to make an informed choice about which marketing option to use.

With the St Merryn Meat Companys giant processing plant in south Wales opening soon, Anthony Gibson, director of the NFU south west, said producers needed to be more aware of how the firms 3000 member producer club operated.

The NFU was involved to ensure that arrangements worked to the benefit of farmers, but the ideal situation was where the club was producer owned. Currently retailers were in control but they could not buck the market because members were free to sell through another outlet.

He warned that the premium prices paid by retailers "desperate for organic beef and lamb" could not last. But producers could benefit from retail experience that branding meat Welsh could boost sales by 20% in Welsh stores.

Mr Gibson advised producers to "go for broke" on Welsh branding. &#42