12 March 1999

Meat – part of their life…

FRENCH producers are getting a 34p/kg premium in market prices compared with imported meat due to levies paid to Interbev, the French equivalent of the MLC.

Interbev director general Jean-Louis Bignon told farmers weekly that producers pay the equivalent of £15.90 levy (based on 42 cent/kg deadweight) compared with MLCs levy of £3.32 for a 330kg beef carcass.

This is matched by a retailer levy and is used for beef promotion, allowing French produce gain a 34p/kg (3 francs) premium over imports.

Despite poor prices, particularly for pigs, there has been no producer furore over levies.

Interbevs £15.5m (135m francs) annual promotional budget – 50% more than MLCs beef and sheep promotional budget – is targeted at reassuring consumers that French meat is safe.

"We use a very simple slogan – Meat is part of your life," says Mr Bignon.

Consumer concern over meat safety following BSE is being won over despite the number of confirmed cases continuing to rise. The main market for imported meat is catering which demands lower prices than retail markets, explains Mr Bignon.

This is where British beef will have to start its comeback, he added, although he suggests it will be at least two years before significant volumes are exported.