Sainsbury has denied it is sitting on a mountain of South American steak it cannot sell.
Rumours circulating agricultural shows - and a subsequent story in a national newspaper - alleged the retailer had misjudged summer demand and a decline in UK beef production, which had left it with more cuts than it needed.
But a spokeswoman for Sainsbury said: “We haven’t over-ordered and there was no massive miscalculation. We haven’t got a glut of BBQ steaks.”
Imports of beef are a touchy subject. At the Meat and Livestock Commission’s annual summer barbecue last week, MLC chairman Peter Barr warned: “Cheap imported meat today, at the price of home production, could mean no meat tomorrow.”
But some experts point out that beef imports are a small part of total consumption. They say falling domestic prices are caused more by farmers selling cattle younger after the abolition on January 1 of a 24-month premium paid under CAP.