Beef farmers need transparency on what happens after the factory gate
Over the last year we seem to have lurched between periods of extreme optimism and extreme pessimism in our beef sector.
Just before the end of last year the beef roundtable was held in the context of the spectre of an increasing price gap between the UK and Ireland, with concerns since over the slide in sterling.
I have always been an advocate of bringing players from across the value chain into the same room as it is often a lack of communication and understanding that leads to mistrust and failures within the chain.
Ahead of the forum I noticed that Minister Simon Coveney was reported as saying: "Prices paid for cattle are determined by supply and demand market dynamics and by a range of other factors such as disposable income, consumer preferences and competition from other meats."
While acknowledging that these are important factors, it is also necessary to emphasise that the configuration of the supply chain, including the existence of market power, is also important in determining the level of prices paid.
Within this context, research evidence highlights that improved supply chain co-ordination and cooperation among the different segments of a supply chain can improve efficiency and effectiveness, and therefore its competitiveness and long term sustainability.
The same research highlights that good communication, trust and a fair distribution of returns all contribute to a strong supply chain.
Clearly these are all areas where there is ample room for improvement in the beef supply chain.