Asda lost little time in picking up the gauntlet thrown down by Tesco last week in cutting consumer prices in the red meat sector, but so far other multiples have not followed suit.
Morrisons and Sainsbury maintained they were intent on offering top level deals for their consumers at all times, including promotions, while Marks and Spencer remained aloof. “This end of the market is not for us,” said a spokesman.
Chris Brown, Asda’s agriculture chief, confirmed it had cut its red meat prices, “but not by as much as Tesco”.
Both companies insisted the cuts were financed by improved chain efficiency.
This fits neatly with the philosophy of the Red Meat Industry Forum, which aims to take costs out of the meat chain from farm to fork.
RMIF general manager Martin Grantley-Smith has pointed out that the cost variation in beef production at farm level could be as much as 30%.
Using techniques such as benchmarking, master classes and value chain analysis, the RMIF believes it could reduce this by 10% and add to bottom lines across the sector.
“Our work shows there is still enough fat on the bones to ensure many farmers can make a difference to their business financially,” said projects manager Paul Jose.
However, the RMIF warned that farmers should not use the new single farm payment after January 1 to finance further price cuts across the chain.