Beef prices to rise amid cattle shortage
Beef is increasingly expected to command a premium on menus, as a global shortage of the meat drives up prices.
That's the warning from specialist buying firm Lynx Purchasing, which predicted that the meat would buck the general downward food inflation trend in 2015 and 2016.
Lynx said that fewer cattle coming to market in the UK and globally meant that not just prime cuts required for steaks and Sunday roasts, but also offcuts and trim used in pies and burgers would be affected.
Lynx managing director John Pinder said: "As often happens, caterers are getting the blunt end of the price pressure that major supermarkets put on suppliers, which is an international issue and not simply confined to the UK market.
"The normal effect of rising demand is for supply to increase to meet it, but in the face of retailers' continued insistence that suppliers maintain low prices, there's little incentive for farmers to increase beef production."
He added: "While customers eating out expect beef to occupy a premium slot at the top of the menu pyramid, there can't be too big a jump between the mid-price and premium dishes on offer. We're recommending to our customers that they look at alternatives to beef to deliver the all-important ‘wow factor' at prices that don't deter their customers."
Beef prices were up 1.2% in the year to January 2015, with only lamb up a similar amount, at 1.4%. Potatoes were down 5.3% and pork was down 3.2%, according to Lynx's Purchasing Market Forecast for spring 2015.
Lamb traditionally sees a spike in prices in spring, with sharp increases for the best quality lamb as supplies from last season become tight and more demand as Easter menus spotlight lamb dishes.