Militants among livestock producers reacted to the Competition Commission's relatively mild chiding of the supermarkets by restating old allegations of profiteering on beef, lamb and pork, offering as evidence the gap between farm gate returns and prices at the checkout. Coincidentally, Tony Fowler of the Meat and Livestock Commission published his latest calculations of average retail price spreads, showing much narrower differentials than a year ago except on beef ­ and deep discounting was already rife in the retail beef trade during 1999 anyway. In part the dispute reflects many farmers' failure to recognise how little of the liveweight makes it all the way along the chain to the retailer chiller cabinet, only about 30% of a steer or heifer and maybe 25% of a lamb. {{MEAT }}

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