Soaring demand for mince piles pressure on beef prices

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A surge in demand for mince from retailers in Ireland and Britain is adding to the downward pressure on cattle and lamb prices.

At the height of the coronavirus panic buying last month, there was a 45pc increase in the amount of beef mince sold by UK retailers.

Over 60pc of all beef sold by mainstream retailers – a critical market for Irish farmers – was mince and other low-price cuts.

“On the surface, this may seem like an unexpected bonus for meat processors, but a closer look at the numbers tells a different story,” said Nick Allen, CEO of the British Meat Processors Association.

“The problem is that retailers have been ordering a significant amount more of mince and other low-value cuts, instead of their usual mix of mince plus other cuts such as steaks and roasts.

“In addition, the lockdown has meant that family gatherings for Easter and Ramadan are having to be cancelled so people aren’t buying more expensive cuts.”

In a normal market, a processor would only want to turn about 40pc of a carcass into mince, added Allen.

“The reason for this is that every increase in the amount that has to be put into mince devalues the whole carcass substantially because mince is typically sold by processors at zero or near-zero profit margin,” he said.

 

by Michael Keaveny

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