Greater understanding needed in the beef supply chain

Greater understanding needed in the beef supply chain

Guaranteeing supplies of beef amid a global shortening of product requires everyone in the supply chain to fully understand the current market condition, according to EBLEX.

EBLEX chairman John Cross sounded the warning as the organisation launched a new state-of-the-industry report called Balancing the Market, highlighting the changes that have taken place over the last few years as the UK re-established itself on the global beef market and examining the potential risks of this new position.

“There are fundamental flaws in how our industry operates,” said John. “Doubts about the ability of the supply chain to continue to deliver remain as we sit amid the gathering storm of rapidly growing global demand for a product that is in decreasing supply. This will create new challenges and a strategic shift in attitude and approach is needed to ensure supply chains are secured to weather this storm. Central to this is a better understanding of the operations and goals of each link in the chain by the other links. Farmers, processors and, particularly, retailers all need to understand each other better and the forces that affect their respective enterprises. We need an era of greater co-operation to tackle shared challenges.

“Long-established working practices of simply looking to buy more cheaply from alternative markets if domestic product becomes scarce or is considered too expensive are unlikely to be sustainable as global supply continues to tighten. There are huge benefits from us being a major player on the world beef trading market again. It is this which has contributed significantly to the higher prices now being enjoyed. However, there are also risks which everyone in the industry needs to fully understand to help them plan accordingly.”

Balancing the Market follows the 2009 EBLEX report In The Balance? which examined the decline of the beef sector over the course of the previous 20 years and suggested a longer-term, global view was needed to help the sector regain its competitive position. Hard copies are available on request. An electronic version can be downloaded free from the publications section at www.eblex.org.uk

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