The retail price of beef has risen by up to 12% over the last year, but farmers insist it must rise further to make production sustainable.

The average price of beef sirloin steaks across the leading supermarkets has risen by 9.5%, from £12.87/kg in February to £14.09/kg this week [The Grocer Price Index]. Fresh lean beef mince prices rose 12.4% in the 12 months to 9 June, to an average of £4.78/kg.

But despite the price increases, beef and sheep producers remain under severe pressure, according to industry body Eblex.

The average intensive beef finisher was now losing £17 per head compared with £20 per head a year ago, Eblex said. Extensive beef finishers were losing £104 per head instead of £133.

"It is a timely reminder that producers should not be swayed into thinking all will be right with their businesses if prices look set to stay at current levels," said Eblex chairman John Cross.

"The vast majority of beef and sheep producers continue to operate on negative margins."