Red meat processors have hit back at accusations they are not doing enough to help the beef sector.
The Scottish Beef Association (SBA) has blamed the continued drop in finished beef prices on lack of competition between processors and lack of promotion for Scotch Beef in the retail sector.
However the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW), which represents processors, said the drop in prices was a result of a reduction in the value of fifth quarter products and reduced consumer demand for beef.
SBA chairman, Neil McCorkindale, has called for an immediate rise in finished prices at a time when prices are back up to £250 a head on the year.
“Do processors want a supply of Scotch Beef in the future or are they happy just to import more and process that in the mix?” said Mr McCorkindale.
“Retailers must support the Scotch label and ensure a fair price is paid for it by their processors.”
SAMW executive manager, Martin Morgan, said: “We fully understand the difficulties that producers are enduring, but pointing the finger at processors is wide of the mark and unhelpful to the current situation.”
He said although retail prices had remained steady, wholesale prices had not, and reduced consumer demand had led to sales of mince and steak being down 4.1% and 3.4% respectively.
Mr Morgan added: “Businesses have also faced significant reductions over the last 12-18 months in the value of fifth quarter items, such as hides and offal, a factor which has contributed heavily to a severe downward pressure on processing margins with a consequent negative impact on what member companies have been able to pay for stock.”
Describing the red meat sector as highly competitive, Mr Morgan said: “To be accused of a lack of competition and a lack of promotion at a time when businesses are fighting for market share at home and abroad is very disappointing to hear by a processing sector which has never worked harder to sustain and develop Scotland’s red meat industry.”
Meanwhile, a Scottish Government beef summit is planned for Monday.
The invite-only event, which takes place at United Auctions’ Stirling Agricultural Centre, will be hosted by Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing to hear directly from farmers and trade bodies about the challenges the beef industry is facing.
A Government spokesman said: “The summit will focus on both the short and long-term issues facing the sector and will act as a forum for the industry to consider actions it can take in terms of resilience, productivity and markets, alongside what the Scottish Government can do.”