Beef and lamb prices will rise, says ANM chief

Firmer prices for beef cattle and sheep in the new year were forecast yesterday by Allan Craig, chief executive of the Inverurie-based farmers co-operative ANM Group.

Craig told guests at the group's Christmas lunch: "Consumption and wholesale demand - assuming we have no food scares or pestilence - will remain buoyant and well balanced, with lower stocks in coldstores," said Craig, who is also president of the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers.

"Livestock numbers across the British Isles are contracting, particularly in Ireland, which accounts for the vast majority of UK beef imports. In addition, the high price of feed has meant that many dairy bulls are no longer being retained for beef.

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Craig added: "Coupled with the probability of consumers having to pay more for chicken and pork, then you could be forgiven for concluding that there will be a natural progression in the price of beef and possibly lamb in 2011."

But he cautioned that it was a rare year when everyone in the agri-food supply chain achieved a "fair degree" of modest margin, citing the variation in the price of store cattle over the past two years.