Farmers miss out on meat demand

By Robert Harris

BEEF farmers are missing out on rising demand for red meat from caterers who care more about price than country of origin, latest figures reveal.

Caterers servicing the “cost” sector, which includes schools, hospitals and prisons, bought 11% more meat in the second quarter of this year compared with the same period in 2000, according to independent market researcher, Foodservice Intelligence.

The trend is likely to continue, says Tony Goodger, trade sector manager at the Meat and Livestock Commission, being triggered by new government guidelines on school and hospital meals.

Beef is proving the most popular buy, posting a 36% rise, while purchases of beef burgers and sausages have risen by a fifth.

But caterers continue to buy on price, which favours imports. Indeed, a recent Foodservice Intelligence survey found that almost 75% of caterers were unaware of their meats country of origin.

The MLC is also trying to boost UK meat use by publishing cost sector guides on cheap recipes from pigmeat, lamb and beef forequarter cuts.

“The first, on pork, was tremendously well received, and we expect a rise in the autumn when schools go back,” said Mr Goodger.

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