Main driver of beef price is supply drop

Richard Lowe Interim CEO, EBLEX Sir; While it is true to say the current EU restrictions on Brazil have contributed to pushing up the price of beef (The Grocer, 31 May, p26), let us not forget that in real terms the price of beef has fallen by 25% since 1990. The main driver of current price increases is a drop in prime beef supplies - just over 4% in January to April this year - combined with a booming export market, thanks to the strength of sterling and the ongoing short supply of beef in the European Union. UK beef export volumes increased by 17.6% during January to March this year, while imports into the UK dropped by over 1%. Higher retail and wholesale prices look set to be a reality longer term. The challenge is how these can be absorbed without undermining the sustainability of our domestic beef supply chain. In this respect, next month's publication of the food policy report from the Number 10 Strategy Unit will be particularly welcome