FOOD chain partnerships offer livestock producers a golden opportunity to target consumers who are prepared to pay more for quality meat.
Heather Jenkins, central meat buyer at Waitrose, says there are still customers with high disposable incomes ready to reward farmers, processors and retailers who maintain the highest standards. But livestock producers have to learn more about the needs of others in the food chain to optimise quality premiums.
She was speaking at the launch of a new competition for Welsh suckler herd operators who use registered Aberdeen Angus and Hereford sires. Both breed societies and the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society back the initiative, and Dovecote Park Ltd, which processes 35,000 cattle/ year for Waitrose, is offering £1600 in prize money.
Phil Harris, director and general manager of Dovecote, told beef producers attending the launch that they risked everything if they simply dismissed the huge amount of beef being imported as rubbish. "Most of it is excellent quality and it is half the price."
UK producers should compete by being efficient, always striving to improve quality and providing traceability. The beef they produce should live up to consumer expectations. Better food chain communications could help them achieve that.
Entries for the competition close on Aug 15 and winners will be presented at the Welsh Winter Fair in December. *