Retailers have hit back at claims they have backtracked on their post-Horsegate commitments to British beef farmers and increased their margins at farmers’ expense.
The NFU said farmgate prices had fallen from 402p/kg last July to 355p/kg this April while retail prices had remained stable. As a result, farmers’ share of the final retail price this March was just 51% compared with 58% in March 2013, it added, citing figures from Eblex.
“I had hoped that off the back of the legacy of the horsemeat scandal, we would see retailers living up to their promise to engage with the supply chain,” said livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe. “I am deeply disappointed to see this drive to force down prices.”
However, the British Retail Consortium said farmers were wrong to blame retailers for the recent reduction in beef prices. “Retailers are investing in their own chains, are paying the best prices to the beef farmers who supply them, and are not the cause of this short-term fall,” said director of food and sustainability Andrew Opie.
He added that a recent NFU report had acknowledged that farmers’ share of retail prices had steadily increased over the past 15 years, “as retailers cut the shelf price to help consumers whilst ensuring producers still receive a good price”. British beef prices rose in the wake of Horsegate last year, when many retailers made commitments to source more UK beef. But prices have fallen more recently, as consumer demand has slowed down while production has increased.