NBA predicts more settled 2015 for beef farmers

Next year should be better for beef farmers after a rocky 2015, the National Beef Association has said.

In its annual review, the NBA forecast a more settled outlook, with support for finished prices coming from fewer Irish cattle coming forward and growth in exports.

The price recovery has been gathering momentum since August, with lower finished cattle supplies and suckler cow numbers still falling.

In the last four weeks, the British all-steers deadweight average has stayed steady between 355-356p/kg, after slumping to 327p/kg in the summer.

See also: More unusual markets to drive beef export growth

NBA chief executive Chris Mallon said the industry was collectively crossing its fingers for a good winter and more mild weather next year, leading to good grass growth and lower feed costs.

“UK domestic producers are in a much more optimistic place than we were at the same time last year,” he said.

“After a pretty poor start in the beef price world, it turned out to be a very good farming year. Finishers in particular had severe cashflow difficulties in the first half of the year but this has turned itself around.”

The latest Eblex market report said the beef trade remained robust, with prices staying firm despite more cattle being forward.

The report said this was welcome news for producers, particularly as processors had reported adequate stocks and most Christmas buying was over.

Mr Mallon said M&S, Waitrose, Morrisons, Lidl, Aldi and Co-op should be congratulated for backing British beef but more commitment was needed from other big supermarkets.

More work was also needed to educated and inform shoppers about the high welfare, provenance and integrity of British meat, he said.

“In order to boost sales, we need to have sensible prices that are affordable for consumers,” Mr Mallon said. “It’s important that as farmers we are realistic.”

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