There are signs that the economic recovery in the UK  is accelerating and consumer confidence improving according to EBLEX.

This is good news for Irish beef farmers as the UK remained the dominant market for Irish beef in 2013 with shipments amounting to 250,000t or 53% of total exports valued at around €1.1 billion.

Eblex says there is much debate on when consumer spending will return to pre-recession levels and with the BBQ season now here and with falls in farm gate prices starting to feed through to the shelves, it will be interesting to see whether sales increase by more than the usual seasonal uplift this summer.

More than 42,000 tonnes of steak sold across Britain last year, equating to 16% of total beef retail sales.

EBLEX outline that price is a key barrier to consumers. Over the past four years retail sales have declined six per cent, according to data from Kantar Worldpanel. It says this has coincided with a period of steep retail price inflation when consumers have adopted a range of ‘savvy shopping’ techniques to manage their food spending. Lower price point proteins and cuts have performed best against this backdrop.

EBLEX says with an average retail price of £13.04/kg (€16.5/kg) over the 52 weeks ending June 22, steak cuts are more than 50% more expensive than roasting joints (the second most expensive beef cut).

Although prices have eased in recent weeks, they are up by more than a quarter compared to four years ago, in line with inflation across the category as a whole. It is unsurprising that most UK consumers (84%) view steaks as being expensive (AHDB/EBLEX survey).