NFU and NFU Cymru are urging retailers and processors to support British beef and sheep farmers by promoting cuts of meat such as steaks and roasting joints in stores, which are now in high supply due to the complete loss of the food service market.

Meanwhile the AHDB is launching a social media campaign to encourage people to enjoy steak nights at home.

In an open letter, NFU livestock board chairman Richard Findlay and vice-chairman Wyn Evans said that the supply chain has a moral responsibility to act in the interests of both consumers and farmers.

They reiterated that British beef and lamb is in plentiful supply but warned that ongoing high demand for products such as mince would soon become unsustainable.

In the letter, they said: “Beef and sheep farmers are facing massive and unwarranted disruption to their livelihoods as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. But while UK consumers continue to demand high quality beef and lamb, which UK farmers can supply, we see unsustainable returns for our livestock that are undermining the moral partnership needed between farmers, processors and retailers.

“It’s clearly a national priority to ensure shoppers can feed their families and keep the nation going at this time of need. The farmers we represent feel passionately about contributing to this effort and we want to make sure that you and your customers are assured that British beef and lamb is in plentiful supply.

“We understand that buying patterns in retail have caused significant problems with products like steaks and joints being outsold and out of balance by mince. Put simply, we cannot sustain a stable supply of one half of each animal.

“We think the whole chain has a renewed moral responsibility to make sure we market and value our product responsibly to avoid disruption to the consumer and, of course, to the farmers’ ability to maintain supply.

“We are urging all retailers to take stock in this period of uncertainty and reconsider their responsibility to their suppliers in this newly constrained marketplace. For beef and lamb, that means buying in balance and ensuring farmers receive a sustainable return.

“We are encouraged to see some retail lines promoting those prime cuts such as steaks and roasting joints as Easter and the warmer weather approaches. All the farmers we represent want to help you help the nation through this crisis, we do however need all retailers to play their part with us.”

The NFU will be contacting all retailers separately to understand individual plans to deal with the disruption in supply.

The AHDB said that with the nation’s restaurants closed for the foreseeable future, farmers and chefs are teaming up to help people enjoy the perfect steak dinner at home.

Usually, 20 per cent of beef is consumed in the eating-out market, with steak a popular choice, but current closures mean there will be 2.5 billion fewer eating-out occasions between April and June this year.

With social media an increasingly important source of recipe inspiration, AHDB is rallying industry and chefs to use the hashtags #steaknight and #makeitsteak over the next three months to show consumers how to enjoy restaurant-quality steak in the comfort of their own home.

The initiative aims to put steak on the menu for some of the additional 500 million meals** a week which will now be consumed at home during lockdown.

For those unsure where to start, AHDB has a range of quick and easy recipes on its website, such as steak nachos with salsa, Korean beef bibimbap and bistro steaks on garlic bruschetta.

Will Jackson, AHDB strategy director for beef and lamb, said: “We want to join up the supply chain and showcase the fantastic ways we can all enjoy an eating-out experience in the comfort of our living rooms by linking up communities across social media with farmers and chefs to share their expert knowledge and tips.

“We encourage everyone to prepare and share simple steak recipes to help people cook with confidence in their own home during these difficult times.”

Steak can also make a valuable contribution to a balanced diet, as red meat is naturally rich in protein, low in salt and provides eight vitamins and minerals which contribute towards good health.

Red meat, such as beef, is one of the main sources of vitamin B12, which is typically only found naturally in animal products, such as meat and milk. Vitamin B12 helps the immune system work normally and contributes to normal psychological function.

#Steaknight is part of AHDB’s extensive consumer-focused marketing and PR programme, and complements Great British Beef Week, taking place from 23 to 30 April.