The English Beef and Lamb Executive has called for an increase in retail prices to reduce supermarket reliance on imported meat - even if it comes at the expense of consumption.

Higher prices would mean consumers bought beef and lamb less frequently, leading to less need for meat imports, an Eblex report claimed. A 10% retail beef price increase would result in the 640,000 tonnes of beef currently imported each year falling to 457,000 tonnes.

"Our work on beef and lamb price elasticities shows consumers are more willing to accept price increases on quality beef and lamb than on commodity product," said Eblex chief executive Richard Ali. "The impact of any increase in retail price would be to close the gap between domestic consumption and production - effectively lowering the demand for commodity imports."

Higher prices would also mean increased margins and higher total revenue for retailers, he added.