The UK's National Beef Association has called for supermarkets to pass price increases along to beef producers, warning that the domestic beef supply will dry up if action is not taken.

"In order to maintain supply there must be a fair and equitable return," NBA director Kim Hayward told just-food this morning (31 March).

"Consumers need to be willing to pay more for quality products and supermarkets need to pass these price increases down the supply chain. At the moment, prices have gone up but supermarkets aren't passing these gains back to farmers."

According to Hayward, the stringent rules and regulations imposed by the UK government on environmental issues and animal welfare, coupled with the increasing cost of commodities such as fuel and feed, have caused the cost of beef production to rise dramatically.

This situation means that returns to beef producers falls way below the cost of production, Hayward said.

In the past, farmers recuperated these losses through EU subsidies. This is no longer possible because European guidelines now require funding to be used for rural development and environmental improvement, the NBA boss said.

If supermarkets do not increase payments to beef producers, Hayward warned, the entire UK beef industry could be in peril.

"A business cannot continue to operate if it is just piling up losses," she said.