Beef producers 'struggling to adsorb' impacts of Covid-19

The scale of disruption that the beef sector is seeing in the supply chain is 'truly unprecedented', farmers have warned
The scale of disruption that the beef sector is seeing in the supply chain is 'truly unprecedented', farmers have warned

Beef producers are working with retailers to promote higher-end cuts of meat as many farmers 'struggle to adsorb' the impacts of Covid-19.

Market disruption as a result of the coronavirus pandemic is an added blow for the sector, which had already suffered a sustained period of low prices.

The closure of the food service sector has seen the loss of a home for a significant proportion of the higher value cuts of beef, most notably steaks and roasting joints.

Whilst there has been an increase in demand from retailers for mince and lower value cuts, this has not offset the loss caused by the closure of pubs, cafes, restaurants.

NFU Cymru is one group spearheading efforts to support the sector, meeting with major retailers to highlight the quality of Welsh and British beef.

The union's livestock board chairman Wyn Evans highlighted that finished beef prices have been under pressure for the past 12 months.

This has been exacerbated by the effects of Covid-19 which has seen the closure of the food service market, both domestically and in key exports markets.

“The scale of disruption that we are seeing in the supply chain is truly unprecedented," Mr Evans said.

“Over the past week I have been in discussion with a number of the major retailers, exploring how they can better promote some of these higher end cuts of meat.

“I am also aware of efforts that independent butchers, farm shops and other independent retailers are undertaking to ensure that our consumers have access to great tasting, sustainably reared PGI Welsh Beef and PGI Welsh Lamb.

"I know many who have come up with innovative social distancing solutions in their shops and have embarked on home delivery for the first time," he added.

Red meat body HCC/Meat Promotion Wales has responded to the coronavirus outbreak with a strong social media campaign promoting higher-end cuts of beef.

Later this week, the NFU Cymru Livestock Board will be meeting the chairman and chief executive of HCC to discuss plans for further promotion going forward.

Mr Evans thanked those working in the red meat supply chain for their efforts during the crisis: “Most importantly, we thank the consumer for their support for farmers and we ask that they continue to look out for PGI-assured beef and lamb.

“We hope that during this time challenging time for us all, there may be an opportunity for consumers to try a new mealtime solution that brings the pleasure of eating out into your home.”