Welcome, but no quick fix
PROGRESS towards reviving beef exports is welcome, but there is no quick fix for producers, who must continue finishing quality cattle.
That is the verdict of speakers at the farmers weekly forum Profit from Beef. MLC corporate strategy director, Bob Bansback, said that although UK beef consumption had almost recovered to pre-BSE levels, the industrys future was still unsecured.
Other measures will decide the industrys fate. Those are Agenda 2000, including reform of subsidies, exports – starting with a date-based export scheme to re-open overseas markets – and sterling. Its strength barred the UK from some export markets and left it vulnerable to cheap imports, said Mr Bansback.
With all these pressures it would be inconceivable to expect a significant price rise for finished beef before mid-1999, he said. Meanwhile, the farming and processing sector must restructure costs to provide a margin throughout the meat chain.
Independent consultant and ex-Safeway manager Michael Hunt said producers must supply what the market wants and in the way it requires.
Retailers and processors demanded large, consistent quality supplies from a few suppliers, not a small number of cattle from a large number of smaller outlets. *