Beef processors often mention to The Grocer their surprise at farmers' exaggerated notion of the saleable meat yield from a typical beast on the hoof. Media reports frequently quote producers complaining of cattle prices that are well below £1 per kg liveweight while sirloin steak typically retails at more than £10/kg, the implication being that supermarkets must be making huge profits. Even on the deadweight basis used for pricing most cattle sold direct to abattoirs serving supermarkets, recently 160-170p per kg in England and Wales and about 20p higher in Scotland, the farm to retail spread is interpreted by producers as extortionate. Although sophisticated farmers are familiar with killing out percentages and the need for an attractive hindquarter, processors reckon few really understand saleable meat yield or the small proportion of high value cuts in a typical carcase. A lean steer might kill out at well beyond 50%, but the saleable yield from the carcase will still be only 70%. In other words, not much more than a third of the liveweight can reach the supermarket shelf or restaurant kitchen ­- meaning in present circumstances the farmgate return, as a cost to the ultimate buyer of the beef,is actually closer to £3 than to £1. {{M/E MEAT }}

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