The UK’s meat processors have given a commitment to give more lead-in warning time when changing carcass specification in the future, according to NFU Livestock Committee Chairman Charles Sercombe.

He said the commitment was given at this week’s Beef Summit in London. “The factories would not agree to discuss the detail of any specification changes prior to their implementation. However, the agreement which they did commit to should be regarded as a step in the right direction.

“The retailers remained totally non-committal on this issue. However, the supermarket representatives did make it clear they had no intention of further differentiating between Irish and UK beef on their shelves. This particular point is a bone of contention with the NFU at the present time. We feel that British beef should be getting a higher profile within local food retail chains. And this is a view widely held by British consumers. ”

Charles Sercombe went on to point out that, form a producer point of view the UK and Irish beef markets are joined at the hip.

“Anything that can be done to take beef off the UK market at the present time will help to improve the tenor of farmgate prices both I Britain and Ireland. And, with this in mind, I welcome the attempts currently ongoing to secure live export outlets in Europe and further afield for Irish cattle.”

Looking ahead, the NFU Livestock Committee Chairman is firmly of the view that beef supply and demand will come more into line within the UK as we head towards the autumn.

“And, while not wishing to tempt fate, there is every prospect that farmgate prices will strengthen as we move into 2015.”