Consumers will be eating more beef in future - but tightening supplies will lead to higher retail prices, a new report has warned.

The Eblex report claims UK beef production will decline in the next three years. From 1990 to 2007, steer slaughter numbers had fallen by 28%, and heifers by 23%, it said.

As UK beef consumption was expected to grow, the shortfall in domestic supply would need to be made up through imports, but with growing demand in Asia-Pacific, competition for beef on the global market would intensify.

Producers could help counter some of the adverse effects on their businesses through improved management efficiencies and reduced workload, said chief executive of Eblex, Richard Lowe. "There is also scope to increase productivity and improve margins though good farmgate prices are needed to allow the investment," he said.