Beef Industry Requires "Shift In Perception"

ENGLAND, UK - Looking at a global market place rather than focusing on domestic demand is the only reliable way to bolster England's beef price, an industry conference has been told.
calendar icon 25 October 2010
clock icon 2 minute read

Speaking at the EBLEX annual conference in Warwickshire this week, the organisation's chairman John Cross said both the beef and lamb sectors faced common challenges regarding productivity, efficiency and costs of production, both environmental and financial, which must be addressed.

However, the sheep meat sector benefits from a booming international market, whereas UK beef is presently land locked in the domestic market.

"The domestic market is heavily impaired by reduced consumer disposable income and a highly competitive multiple retail sector, which is mainly focused on a promotional price culture," said John, closing Thursday's conference attended by nearly 200 delegates from the English beef and sheep supply chain.

"Unless the industry acts and changes its perception of what the term 'market place' really means, globally nothing will happen to address the dysfunctional nature of the domestic beef market. Why should it? No government, no retailer, no consumers are going to rescue us out of sympathy.

"There is no ideological flaw in the market and it is a nonsense to idly rely on exchange rates to maybe bring export opportunities. These markets have to be identified and won proactively. It's not easy work as, at the same time, we must defend our domestic position. But this is the only way we can expect to optimise the value of the disassembled animal.

"Quite simply, we either invest as an industry or we don't. EBLEX can do this work. It will take enormous commitment of resource, but the only way we will drive the price is to shorten the market. It is the oldest, most reliable rule in the book.

"Does that mean more industry investment? There is an investment case to be discussed and I would suggest that discussion needs to be sooner rather than later."

The EBLEX conference, held at the Chesford Grange Hotel, near Kenilworth, featured speakers from across the industry looking at the latest advances shaping the future of the English beef and sheep sectors. Topics included developments in the US beef sector, the Irish perspective on beef and sheep production, meeting the demands of the foodservice market and the launch of EBLEX's 2010 Business Pointers.

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