Producers who farm rare and native livestock breeds can sell meat for a premium while spending less on input costs, but a declining local abattoir network remains a 'key barrier'.
A new survey by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) has revealed insights into the commercial opportunities and barriers that rare and native breeds can bring to farming businesses.
Nearly half of respondents (49%) said they sold their rare or native breed products for a higher price than continental alternatives, while 43% said they sold it for the same price and 8% for a lower price.
Of those who kept both native and continental breeds, or who have switched from continental breeds to native breeds, 71% thought that overall input costs with native breeds were lower than with continental breeds.
The main cost differences related to feed and supplements, the type of land required, housing, shelter and veterinary costs.
Over one third (38%) of respondents said that the commercial potential of a superior product was one of the reasons why they chose a native breed, and 36% said lower input costs was a reason for their native breed choice.
However, 42% of respondents warned that ‘lack of suitable abattoir’ was one of their top three greatest barriers to growing their rare breed business.
The RBST said that while the survey results showed a 'thriving and dynamic' native breeds sector, the lack of suitable abattoirs was still a 'key barrier' to future growth.
A 2018 analysis by the Sustainable Food Trust found that the number of small abattoirs in the UK had reduced by a third over the previous decade.
Christopher Price, RBST chief executive said: “The opportunity to sell meat for a premium coupled with lower input costs creates an attractive opportunity for commercial success with rare and native livestock breeds, which is so important for these breeds’ survival long into the future.
“But the results also show very clearly the need for urgent action on another key barrier for rare breed businesses looking to grow – access to suitable abattoirs
"RBST is campaigning for government to commit to the support and collaboration which will help reverse the decline of the local abattoir network."
The survey results were taken from the responses of 259 farmers and smallholders who sell rare or native breed products or services.