The NFU has written to supermarkets to demand more financial support for British meat producers.

In a letter by director general Richard Macdonald, the NFU said that over the past decade the sheep breeding flock had declined by a quarter and the beef breeding herd by almost 10% as a result of "unsustainable market conditions". Earlier this year the NFU distributed 40,000 pressure cards to consumers calling for support for British beef and lamb producers. After 5,000 were returned backing the farmers, the union decided to write to supermarkets.

"What we want to see from the retailers is a response to this campaign", said Macdonald. "We welcome moves from any supermarkets on how they can help sustain the long-term profitability of our beef and sheep sectors."

NFU said it had also commissioned a YouGov survey showing 72% of consumers would always prefer to buy British beef and lamb, while 82% said supermarkets could do more to support farmers.