Meat prices set to rise
MEAT prices rises are “inevitable” as British farmers come under financial pressure, consumers are being warned.Livestock producers are facing a hike of nearly 100% in their animal feed costs, according to business advisory firm Deloitte.
By Sarah Chambers and PA
MEAT prices rises are “inevitable” as British farmers come under financial pressure, consumers are being warned.
Livestock producers are facing a hike of nearly 100% in their animal feed costs, according to business advisory firm Deloitte.
If foreign markets do not fully resume imports of British produce following the recent foot-and-mouth scare, it will mean further revenue losses, Deloitte warned.
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Richard Crane, food and agriculture partner at Deloitte, said yesterday that meat price rises would be needed to support the British industry.
And John Collen, chairman of the Suffolk branch of the National Farmers' Union said price hikes were “inevitable” if we are going to sustain stable UK production of food.
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Mr Crane said consumers held the key to a more resilient future for the industry.
“UK shoppers will have to pay more for their meat. Increased prices will allow farmers to continue to meet the increasing demand for local, high quality meat,” he said.
His comments follow last week's warning from the National Association of British and Irish Millers (Nabim) that rocketing wheat costs would push up the price of bread.
Wheat prices have hit an all-time high in the past few weeks due to poor harvests and increasing global demand, Nabim said.
“Certainly, there have been fairly high feed increases. Whether it's 100% or not, I'm not sure,” said Mr Collen.
But he added: “Even with these price rises, food will still in relative terms be cheap.”
Mr Collen, who has a dairy herd and keeps a few beef cattle, said feed costs were hitting dairy farmers hard, but said it was a “double-edged sword” for farmers like himself, who also grow cereals.
He pointed out cereal prices had more or less doubled. However, harvests had suffered badly due to bad weather. Wet weather in February had already put crops under stress when it was followed by an extremely dry April, he said.
“It's the worst harvest we have had, certainly in my memory. We are two tonnes per hectare down. Last year, we did 9.4 tonnes and this year we look set to do somewhere in the region of 7.3 or 7.4 tonnes,” he said.
“It's a considerable dip, so the price rise is understandable.”
Although the increases may be fed through to bread prices, the raw materials only accounted for a small proportion of the overall cost, he pointed out.
“We as an industry have really been on our knees for the last five years - dairy, beef and cereals,” he said.
“Yes, we have set all-time highs for the value of wheat. However, this comes on the back of all-time highs for oil and all-time highs for many other commodities.”
He added: “The cost of cereals has doubled, but you have to realise that for a loaf of bread that's only seven pence.”