The long-term outlook for beef in the UK and worldwide is strong, according to ABP agricultural manager Stuart Roberts.
Speaking at this week's Asda/ABP BeefLink producer group meeting at Ludlow Mr Roberts told Asda supplying farmers that the current shortage of beef across the world was unlikely to change in the medium to long-term and worldwide demand was still rising.
"Production in every major beef producing region is currently sat at 2007 production levels and this is unlikely to change. The UK saw a peak in production in 2011, but this dropped again in 2012 and the outlook is for production in 2013 to be similar to last year.
"Add in to this that Asian consumers are eating more and more red meat and it is easy to see why the outlook is positive."
Mr Roberts said the current equilibrium in worldwide supply and demand for beef could be seen as both a positive and a negative. "Supply and demand are very closely balanced over the next few years, but this doesn't allow for any unforeseen events such as major disease outbreaks or climatic events. I believe it is quite a dangerous position for the industry to be in."
But while, the long-term global outlook is positive the UK retail market will not be without its challenges in the coming 12 months Asda beef buyer Amy Austin told farmers at the meeting. "Asda customers were heavily focussed on price in 2012 and there is no sign of this changing in 2013."
Asda is working to help shoppers through these challenging times by developing a range of new beef products aimed at both the cost and time conscious customer, Miss Austin said.
"This year will see the launch of a range of fixed weight and fixed price roasting joints with the aim of helping time-pressed shoppers prepare meals in a known time period. These fixed priced joints will also help people understand meat pricing better.
"Many shoppers are confused when they see a price/kg and a pack price on meat packaging. Providing a straight forward pricing structure will clear this confusion and help cost conscious customers know exactly what it their shopping is going to cost before they reach the checkout."
Alongside this Asda is also developing a fixed price steak range and introducing skin packaging to its beef range to help reduce waste and allow a longer post-purchase fridge life for its products.
"In addition to these developments we'll also be introducing more shopper education to stores to help them understand how to use cheaper cuts and get the most enjoyment possible from the beef they buy in our stores," she added.
The producer group meeting also saw the prizes awarded in the annual Asda/ABP BeefLink carcass competition run by ABP's Shrewsbury abattoir.
The competition, which saw entries judged on carcass yield and value, rather than solely on grade was won by a 366.8kg carcass from a Limousin cross young bull from Graham Morgan.
The carcass graded E2 and was slaughtered at 16 months old and had won first place in the young bull class before going on to win the overall title.
The champion was an exceptionally high yielding, high quality carcass which is a credit to Mr Morgan said Asda senior red meat trader Jim Viggars.
“Boning out the carcasses to determine the champion had shown the value of assessing carcasses based on their yield and value rather than simply on the EUROP grading classification.
“The championship winning carcass was considerably more valuable than the other class winners and had more meat where the valuable cuts were.”
Mr Morgan received a total of £1000 in prize money for their champion carcass, having picked up £300 as the young bull class winner and a further £700 for the championship award.
ABP's Asda agricultural manager Elwyn Pugh said the standard of cattle put forward for the competition had once again been of an exceptionally high standard. "This is the third time the competition has been judged on yield and it is proving to be a valuable insight in to which carcasses give the best retail returns and hence farmer returns.
“Unlike other competitions run across the industry the champion carcass in this competition was determined purely on an analysis of meat yield and value rather than an assessment of how the carcase looks when hanging up."
Winning the steer class was a 350kg Limousin sired carcass from Mike Rowlands which graded u+3 at 19 months old. Meanwhile the heifer class was won by H and H Thomas with a 20 month old British Blue cross which graded E3 at 377.3kg.
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