8 October 1999

Message on beef

BEEF producers facing intense competition in domestic and export markets must strive for greater efficiency and better product quality, says Meat and Livestock Commission chairman Don Curry.

Mr Curry told Welsh farmers attending the opening of a £410,000 beef research facility at the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research, Aberystwyth, that the advantages which allowed competitors to undercut British beef prices could increase

Over two years, the British beef industry had reduced imported beefs contribution to total consumption from 26% to 20%. This was achieved despite a 15% differential between UK and Irish beef prices, he said.

But Mr Curry warned that the gap between home produced and imported beef had widened to 19p/kg and competition for market share was tougher than ever.

He emphasised that market promotion in itself would not enable producers to retain and increase market share. There must be investment in research to equip farmers with the technology to compete.

"I must stress competitiveness will be the key to the future of our industry, and our competitiveness as an industry must stem from properly funded research."

said Mr Curry. "The commission is committed to ensuring that the best research possible is not only carried out but is delivered to the industry."

Producers must be equally committed to making the right product available at the right time. While farmers looked for new ways to reduce input costs, they must be aware they could not afford to reduce quality by cutting corners.

"To do so would be counterproductive to the long-term viability of their businesses and to the health of the food chain. We all know how easily consumer confidence in the food we produce can be knocked for six with dreadful consequences for the industry."