No beef with UK producers

THE GROWING deficit between EU beef production and consumption offers UK producers plenty of opportunities once current restrictions are lifted.

And, according to Jean-Luc Meriaux, secretary general of the European Meat Trade Association, beef prices across Europe will remain strong this year and next.

Speaking at the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers conference in Edinburgh, Mr Meriaux pointed out that beef production for the EU-15 this year is forecast to be 7.25m tonnes.

That would fall 382,000t short of EU demand, he said, with the gap widening further next year to some 464,000t.

Imports would increase to reach as much as 600,000t, mainly from South America, with as much as a sixth coming in at full tariff.

Exports from the EU would continue to fall because of the imbalance between supply and demand, Mr Meriaux said.

“We are going to have a shortage of beef production until 2010 at least, so there is room for your beef,” he told the 70 representatives of the UK meat trade at the conference.

“Demand falls into three categories: young calves for veal production, which doesn‘t really apply to you in the UK; beef for processing; and high quality cuts.”
The challenge for the UK industry was to “get out there with a good message” in advance of the removal of the OTM scheme and the resumption of meaningful exports, Mr Meriaux said.

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