Retailers slammed for “margin grab” on beef

NFU Scotland has voiced its “concerns” that the recent beef sector price correction is now being exploited by retailers.

Pointing out that the retail price of beef is at its lowest level for almost five years, with farmgate prices falling by almost £250 per head in the past eight months, the union says it’s “totally unacceptable” that farmers are now receiving just 48% of the retail value of their stock.

NFU Scotland president Nigel Miller said: “It was inevitable that farmgate prices would adjust from the historic highs seen just under a year ago but we have concerns that the price correction is now being exploited by retailers – using lower prices for cattle and higher retail prices to consumers to squeeze more margin out of the market for themselves.

“That margin grab is a double edged sword. Figures show that the public expenditure on beef is broadly static. Given that retail prices are going up, that means the public are taking home less beef. It would be a far more positive approach were retailers to use that increased margin to more fairly reward producers at the sharp end and more actively promote Scotch beef to the consumer to help grow the market. That would benefit the whole beef chain and grow the market.

“This short-term mind-set of major retailers, where immediate profit drives the decision-making process, runs the risk of pushing cattle off Scottish farms and reducing the supply of our iconic grass-fed product.”

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