Increasing returns on exports could solve the problems created by the dominance of mince in the domestic beef market, the National Beef Association has said.

Mince now accounts for 52% of beef consumption in the UK, and the association says more effort must be made to restore carcass balance, and its accompanying lift in income, by selling higher priced roasts and steaks on to the export market.

The NBA is now opening up the idea for discussion by beef industry tacticians, sales promoters, and commercial operators because it is worried that current retail revenues are not generating enough money to keep processors and farmers in business.

“World and EU supplies of beef are tightening rapidly, so there must be untapped demand in Europe for cuts taken from British cattle that the mince-dominated UK market finds difficult to sell,” said NBA director, Kim Haywood.

“Before 1996 the UK beef industry thrived on the back of a buoyant export trade, but at the moment too many big players appear content to see burgers, mince and sausage fly off the shelves, while the appetite to re-establish compensatory sales through a resurgent export trade is disappointingly modest.”

NBA research reveals many processors believe export contracts which require regular, high volume, deliveries are too difficult to secure, even though a slump in sales initiative means domestic demand for steaks and roasts is dwindling at the same time as the European market offers trading opportunities across scores of countries.

Ms Haywood added: “Salvation for all beef industry participants lies in working with EU neighbours to break this deadlock by creating new markets for the high priced cuts that are increasingly difficult to sell at home.”