National Beef Association
For everyone with an interest in the British beef industry

Press Release - The best way supermarkets can insure the quality of their beef products.....

6th February 2013

Region: National

The best way supermarkets can insure the quality of their beef products is not adulterated, is to pay more for the beef they purchase.

The beef industry has been embarrassed by disclosures linked to the adulteration of processed products with cheaper meat – and these took place because multiple retailers continue to be addicted to dangerously heavy discounting and have still to face up to the dangers they create if beef continues to be routinely undervalued and undersold.

“Beef is expensive to produce and expensive to process but most mainstream supermarkets discount beef, and beef products, so heavily that those who supply them face a never ending struggle to cover their costs,” explained Oisin Murnion, chairman of the National Beef Association in Northern Ireland.

“The horsemeat scandal is a classic example of what happens when supermarket suppliers are squeezed in cost terms and consumers are encouraged to believe that beef, which they like and love to buy, is just as cheap as chicken or other less expensive meats.”

“The NBA is not apologising for cheap horsemeat being substituted for much more expensive beef mince which resulted in consumers being misled. That was deceitful and unpardonable not just because the label on the impure burgers stipulated they were a beef-only product but because it also indicated that they were a product of specific national origin when they were not.”

“But the Association is saying if, for example, consumers are encouraged to believe they can buy a frozen beef burger for less than ten pence when prime cattle are selling for an average £1,200 apiece, and processors have to cover all the cost of reducing these animals down to the product in an individual retail pack, then no one can be surprised if short cuts are sometimes taken.”

“Consumers are now aware that the routine underselling of beef products by most supermarkets can result in suppliers using a much cheaper, less attractive, imported substitute to reduce their costs and help them deliver the product they were asked to at the unrealistic price demanded of them.”

“And if consumers continue to be misled by retailers into thinking beef is dirt cheap, and can be purchased for next to nothing, it is inevitable that another unwelcome, supply-sector, substitution scandal will hit the industry.”

“Supermarkets have sought to restore consumer confidence by saying they will do whatever it takes to insure the quality of their products.”

“The NBA’s view in Northern Ireland is that they can only do this if they accept that unrealistic, obsessively low, beef and beef product pricing encourages cost cutting in their supply chains and that the best way to insure the quality of their product is to make sure they cover the full cost of supplying their preferred product in the first place.”

“If this means relatively expensive beef and beef products no longer being used as a lead discount item then so be it. Most consumers know that beef costs more than chicken, or horsemeat for that matter, and many accept that in quality and provenance terms they will only get what they pay for.”

“Supermarkets are not blameless victims of the horsemeat scandal because the core of the problem is they demand to be supplied at prices that are quite simply unrealistic,” Mr Murnion added.

For more information contact:
Oisin Murnion, NBA Northern Ireland chairman.  Tel 02841 765082