The decline in prime cattle prices has cost Scottish finishers around £30 million since last November, according to Quality Meat Scotland.
The levy body’s director of economic services, Stuart Ashworth, told a packed-out red meat crisis meeting at Thainstone, Inverurie, that prices were down about 12.5% on last year – the equivalent of £200 less per animal.
Explaining the complexity of the problem, Mr Ashworth said supplies were up at a time when sales were down and processors were struggling to sell all parts of a beast.
“The volume of prime beef on the market has increased by 1.6%, and most of that has been down to increases in carcase weights,” he said.
“A lot of the growth is down to the slaughter of heifers.
“That’s a concern for the long-term future of the industry.”
He said consumer buying habits were changing and sales of burgers, roasts and steaks were down.
“Research shows 21% of UK shoppers define themselves as eco-active and one of the things they are doing is lowering their spend on meat, estimated to be down 6%,” added Mr Ashworth.
He said processors were struggling to find a market for offal, hides and rendering materials, and this was directly impacting farmgate prices.