The French beef market could offer UK producers exciting opportunities when normal beef exports resume, expected in February 2006, say experts.
Not only is France’s beef production in decline, but cow beef - beef from cows bred to produce milk or beef calves - also accounts for 50% of retail shelf space.
“French beef production is declining at a higher rate than consumption is falling. And 50% of French beef production - about 700,000 tonnes - is cow beef, half of which comes from dairy herds,” said MLC France’s manager Remi Fourrier.
“Traditionally, around 60% of beef consumed in France is cow beef and this is where there is an opportunity.”
At the moment France imports around 100,000 tonnes of cow beef, half of which comes from dairy herds in the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Germany and Ireland.
However, French retailers are not very willing to sell British beef, and neither is the foodservice sector, because by law they must give information on origin. But the number of French dairy cows slaughtered is expected to decline further.
“French traders want British cow beef for supply chains prepared to accept the UK stamp,” said Fourrier. “French hard-discount butcher chains and some restaurants will be interested in an attractive quality/price ratio.”
Fourrier said that 42% of French consumers said they would buy British beef from their butcher if it was offered with the same guarantees as French beef.
Rachael Porter