An economic analysis of young suckled bull beef in the Scottish beef market
Introduction and Aims. The EC is presently in a position of excess food supply and rationalisation has been necessary. Farmers must consider the nature of the demand for specific foods in an effort to secure a share of this market for their output. It is the farmer-producer of beef to whom this study is directed. The research project seeks solutions to some of the problems presently experienced by Scottish beef producers by analysing the market for a system of young suckled bull beef production. The aims of the research are firstly, an assessment of the factors which govern the feasibility of this system in Scotland and, if these are favourable, the formulation of a marketing strategy to aid farmer-producers in its development. Method. The information needed for this analysis was collected by means of a series of six factual and attitudinal market surveys of the participants at each stage in the production and marketing chain for young suckled bull beef, from West Highland crofters producing weaned calves to beef consumers. These surveys are analysed, interpreted and the findings presented. Conclusions. At the rearing and finishing stages any problems were out-weighed by the advantages of more efficient growth and improved carcass quality. But, although abattoirs handling young bulls had experienced no economically significant problems and retailers acknowledged the superiority of young suckled bull beef carcasses, there is a widely-held belief that the eating quality of all bull beef is less acceptable to consumers. A consumer panel test of this belief was invalidated because the beef supplied was not as ordered. There is a need to improve the scope and flow of information on the nature of cattle killed. In the short term at least there is a market for this product. And if young suckled bull beef can be promoted effectively development of this sector will occur. Several areas can be identified which are essential to a marketing strategy for young suckled bull beef producers. It is vital to ensure repeatability and uniformity of breeds, age, weight and post-slaughter treatment of carcasses. A joint venture with some measure of integration is strongly recommended. A scheme of producers guidelines is also recommended. Farmer-producer groups should establish links with an abattoir-wholesaler of beef. A link should also be established with the multiple retail sector. And promotion of the product could be via this sector into a specific market segment and should focus on quality aspects and health and welfare concerns.