Representatives from across the beef supply chain met on Monday at the Royal Welsh Show, to address the falling market prices for beef which are causing great concern at present for farmers.
The meeting brought together the presidents of both main farming unions, as well as Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC), the Livestock Auctioneers’ Association, Welsh Government, and processors’ bodies BMPA and AIMS.
HCC presented an analysis of current market trends, which have seen market prices for all classes of cattle fall substantially since April. An increased domestic supply of beef cattle and a rise in frozen imports in late-2018 was part of the complex picture, added to subdued demand and weak consumer confidence.
The meeting agreed the need for cross-industry co-operation to analyse the market and respond to the current situation. HCC Chief Executive Gwyn Howells said, “This was an honest and constructive meeting, in which we were all able to share insight into the current market picture. The current prices are causing real uncertainty to beef farmers in Wales and across the UK, and confidence needs to be restored in order to ensure the viability of the sector.
“A range of factors are at work, from changes in supply and demand, low consumer confidence, and the market being affected by contingency planning for Brexit at various points in the supply chain.
“For our part, HCC is redoubling its efforts to engage with retailers and foodservice suppliers, producing a range of videos and multimedia material to support efforts to market the sustainability credentials of PGI Welsh Beef, and working together with our colleagues in England and Scotland to promote red meat as a healthy part of a balanced diet.”
FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “The drastic decline in suckler numbers, particularly in the uplands, is bad news for agriculture, bad news for the environment, and bad news for the long time supply of Welsh beef produced to the highest standards.
“The dramatic fall in prices has angered farmers at a time when we should be bolstering confidence ahead of a Brexit likely to lead to shortages of high quality, ethically and sustainably produced beef.”
NFU Cymru president, John Davies, said: “We cannot overestimate the impact the significant drop in beef price is having on farmer confidence, causing many to raise concerns for the longer term sustainability of their specialist beef production systems. It is clear that we need to see a period of intense marketing and promotional activity from our retailers this Summer to help stimulate consumer demand for great tasting top quality PGI Welsh Beef.”
“With eating out of the home becoming an ever more important factor we also want to see our food service providers giving increased commitments to sourcing PGI Welsh Beef and providing clear country of origin labelling of beef products on menus.”