‘Sword of Damocles hangs over the beef industry’ says HCC chairman

‘Sword of Damocles hangs over the beef industry’ says HCC chairman

The sword of Damocles is hanging over the beef industry, and the only way to save it is by developing a strong and trusting relationship between farmers and retailers.

HCC chairman, Dai Davies says promotion of Welsh Meat is at risk.

HCC chairman, Dai Davies: ““Our message to the entire retail trade is simple – use our products or lose them.”

That was the message delivered by Dai Davies, the Chairman of Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales to an audience of industry specialists on the opening day of the Royal Welsh Show.

“it’s not an exaggeration to say that the sword of Damocles is hanging over the beef industry,” he told a breakfast reception on the HCC stand.

“While the standard of our livestock has never been higher and the quality of Welsh Beef is appreciated by consumers here in the UK and across the world, the industry is facing major problems through a lack of strategic planning by some retailers, he said.

“We all remember the pledges made by many of the retailers after the horsemeat scandal.

“They promised that beef would be largely sourced from the UK, rather than risk obtaining their meat products from abroad and possibly from untraceable sources.

“To their credit, many of those retailers stuck to their word. Unfortunately, that’s not the situation in all cases.

“Large quantities of imported beef products are now present in some UK retailers and we must presume – for want of a better explanation – it’s because it’s a penny or two cheaper than our own produce.

“At the same time the retail price of beef has risen – it’s four per cent higher this year than in 2013.

“So Welsh and British farmers are receiving less for their beef cattle whilst consumers are paying more.”

Mr Davies said the current situation was leading to a crisis in confidence.

“The big danger for our industry is that some farmers will feel they have little choice other than to get out of beef altogether and that will be a tragedy, not only for our industry, but also for the consumer.

“We need a critical mass of producers to ensure that we have a viable and sustainable beef industry in Wales. Falling below that level will mean we will no longer be able to supply our consumers with the volume of high quality Welsh Beef that they have come to expect.

“Retailers are our major customers and are an integral part of the supply chain.

“I would suggest they all have a duty to act responsibly and to play a positive role in not only maintaining but encouraging a flourishing beef industry in this country.

“Our message to the entire retail trade is simple – use our products or lose them.

“Everyone in the supply chain has an important role to play to ensure that we have a sustainable beef industry in this country.

“Unless everyone works together – farmers, processors and retailers – there is a real danger that we will lose our ability to feed the nation at a time when food security is a hot topic for many countries around the world.”

Mr Davies said that HCC was taking positive action by bringing forward its advertising campaign for Welsh Beef by two months to begin in October.

“We are also bringing our Welsh Lamb campaign forward to August to reflect the increased pressure on the market from the early supply of lambs this season.”

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