Meat executives are braced for an upturn in sales of domestic Over Thirty Months beef.
Meat and Livestock Commission marketing director Richard Lowe said that, following the lifting of the ban on OTM British beef entering the food chain, the amount stocked by retailers was set to increase significantly this month.
“The rule change in November coincided with the lead up to Christmas and many retailers had taken a forward position, which slowed uptake.
“But we’re hearing noises from retailers that lead us to believe that we’ll
see more OTM beef on supermarket shelves later this month.”
Simon Phelps of Meadow Quality, a farmer-controlled livestock marketing business, said the temporary continuation of the Over Thirty Months Scheme, which compensates farmers for culled OTM cattle, also meant a slow beginning to the re-admission of older beef into the food chain. “I think that many abattoirs have been holding back since the rule change,” he said.
“This is partly because the continuation of the OTMS has meant that, for some, the volume of OTM cattle that has been presented for slaughter for human consumption simply hasn’t been there in any significant quantity or quality in order for it to go to retailers.
“The abolition of the OTMS will, without a doubt, push more cull cows into the food chain and focus farmers’ minds on finishing these cows to supply the market with the quality cattle it requires.”
Prices for good quality cull cows have held at around £1.25/kg deadweight - compared with the 87p/kg compensation rate offered by the OTMS in December.
“Well-finished, saleable cull cows can command around £100 more than they would on the OTMS,” said Phelps.
The final date cattle can be disposed of through the OTMS is January 20.
Rachael Porter