21 March 1997

View from the middle man…

What does the market want and what are the prospects? Rebecca Austin reports

RELATIONSHIPS between farmers and processors will grow in the future, says John Dracup, livestock procurement and traceability manager with St Merryn Meats.

As a result the beef industry will be far more in tune with itself, says Mr Dracup, whose firm currently supplies Tesco with most of its fresh meat. "If we all want to produce a reasonable margin and secure our futures there is a need to develop relationships and work together.

"St Merryn Meat has already benefited from the closeness of its relationship with both producer and retailer. We see this as a key area to developing our business as year on year the volume of business we do with both the farmers and Tesco increases," he says.

Currently, St Merryn Meat supplies Tesco with just over 350,000 cattle a week. Such large volumes mean Mr Dracup does not, as yet, specify production methods. But membership to a credible farm assurance scheme is essential.

Steers and heifers are the mainstay of Tescos requirements, although some young bulls are allowed. All stock must weigh 270kg to 370kg deadweight and be O+ conformation or more.

"Currently, we accept all breeds but we seeking data to find the best breed for both farmer and consumer. This is one advantage of communicating with both ends of the production chain."