By FWi staff

BEEF prices could be fixed at unnecessarily low levels in areas where large abattoirs dedicated to supermarket trade replace smaller operators, warns the National Beef Association.

Unless producers widen the markets in to which they sell that fall will be inevitable, says the associations chairman Robert Robinson.

Ideas suggested by the NBA for widening outlets include farmer-owned or managed retail outlets dedicated to selling red meat being set up adjacent to major DIY and leisure-based retail units.

However, the difficulty in finding plants willing to contract slaughter stock for these shops is likely to hamper such plans, particularly where carcasses need hanging for 21 days to mature, he warns.

As a result the NBA is asking MAFF to reduce inspection charges to help make smaller abattoirs remain viable and keep markets for producers open.