A RECORD 2bn was spent on beef and lamb by UK consumers in 2004.

The English Beef and Lamb Executive hailed the 4.4% growth in beef sales and 8% growth in lamb sales as “extremely heartening”, as beef sales broke the 1.5bn sales barrier and lamb jumped to 551m.

“Beef and lamb have always been among the most popular bases for British meals and they just go from strength to strength,” said EBLEX chief executive David Croston.

But NFU livestock adviser Kevin Pearce said that farm income had not increased at the same pace as retail sales.

“We are still operating at a price level that makes farmers look hard at beef production as a viable business. To continue to sustain growth, there needs to be an increase in farm-gate prices.”