Tesco is expected to unveil fresh details of a forward contract scheme for suppliers of beef to its Finest and organic ranges at a meeting taking place in Gloucester next month.
The initiative was originally announced at the beginning of November and is designed to offer farmers greater security. But reports indicate that initial uptake was poor after prices on offer by processor St Merryn Foods disappointed farmers.
It is understood that the base price offered for Finest beef was about £2.00/kg - little higher than the current market price and, say farmers,
lower than the cost of production. The organic beef price was understood to be about £2.30/kg.
Producers are hoping that Tesco will have had a rethink since the autumn, and will be announcing
improved terms at the meeting on April 6.
Duff Burrell, chairman of the National Beef Association, said he had requested a meeting with Tesco red meat executives ahead of that date in an effort to find out what the retailer was planning to unveil.
He added: “We’re still hoping to influence their thinking.
“We would love to see this scheme get off the ground and we are delighted that Tesco is now taking a serious look at its beef supply.”
Forward contracts have been touted by many, including Sir Don Curry, as a solution to the woes experienced by UK beef farmers post-CAP reform.
However, there have been warnings that farmers should consider prices offered carefully so they don’t tie themselves into a deal they cannot afford.
Burrell said: “Our line is that it is always a decision to be taken by an individual farmer.”
A Tesco spokeswoman confirmed that a meeting to address agricultural strategy with “the top 100 beef and lamb farmers” would take place on April 6.
But she refused to disclose details of what would be discussed at the event.
Richard Clarke