Scottish beef market under pressure
The union said that, for the second year running, beef is backing up on Scottish farms, and wholesale prices for Scottish steers passing through abattoirs last week averaged 20p per kg less than at the same time in 2014.
While Scottish beef animals are ready for market, NFUS explained that a combination of lower retail demand for beef and a weak euro, making exports more difficult and imports more attractive, meant there were too many animals waiting for slots to enter abattoirs.
NFUS’ livestock committee chairman Charlie Adam, who keeps beef cows in Aberdeenshire, said: "Lower demand, falling prices and abattoir delays at this time of year appear to have become perennial problems for Scotland’s beef producers.
"While experts point to a tightening of supplies later in the year, the reality for many beef producers is that prices are now substantially lower than last year. While these may be offset by lower feed costs this season, the delays now being experienced in getting animals away to abattoirs when they are at their peak runs the risk of cattle no longer meeting the specification demanded by processors and the marketplace.
"Currency is also conspiring against us. The weak euro has contributed to more difficult export conditions and greater pressure from imports – particularly from Ireland."
Average finished steers weighing 600kg are reportedly worth £120 less per head when they enter the supply chain compared to last spring. NFUS aims to work with red meat body Quality Meat Scotland on a beef marketing strategy to improve the situation next year.