Minced beef prices in Tesco and Asda have returned to the levels they were before the multiples’ price war on fresh beef began.
Information gathered by The Grocer 33 price survey on January 4 shows that both multiples have increased the price of their own label lean beef steak mince to £3.26/kg.
In October, Tesco and Asda dropped the price of their mince simultaneously from £3.26/kg to £2.76/kg, sparking claims the two were involved in a pricing war that threatened British farmers’ livelihoods.
Meat and Livestock Commission marketing director Richard Lowe said at the time that the retailers were “destroying value in the beef category.” Minced beef is
significant because it accounts for 45% of all fresh beef sales.
The price increases were welcomed by the National Beef Association. Chief executive Robert Forster said he looked forward to seeing more realism return to the market, and the end of “prehistoric prices”.
He added: “There is still a long way to go before retail beef is selling at a price that the market would be able to sustain. Informal talks with multiple retailers suggest that further price rises of 10%, 15% and even 20% could be carried because beef is such a versatile and stable product.”
Asked if the increases signalled a truce on beef prices, a spokeswoman for Asda said: “There was never a price war. It’s all about giving the best value to our customers at the best prices.”
A spokeswoman for Tesco said: “There has been some activity around price, though we don’t talk about ‘war’. We always try to keep our prices low, and there was movement because of that, but there seems to be stability now.”
NFU food chain head Terry Jones welcomed the price rises. “This is great news for British farmers,” he said.
Greg Meenehan