A SIGNIFICANT boost in the sale of British beef has come as welcome news to farmers amid uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic.

Retail beef sales over the past 12 weeks have increased by 19.3 per cent on the same period last year, while production has increased by 2.2 per cent.

Furthermore, farm gate prices are 14.5 per cent higher - good news for beef farmers.

Neil Shand, the interim chief executive of the National Beef Association, which is headquartered in Hexham, welcomed the news.

He said: "It's been caused by people replacing where they would normally go out by buying meat and eating at home.

"The demand for the product is tremendous at the moment.

"Whilst there was a bit of negativity when pubs and restaurants closed down, a lot of the beef they use is imported. That's what's helped the price and sales. "

Neil also explained that retail customers are more likely to be drawn to British products rather than imported meat.

He continued; "There's a lot of pressure for retail. More and more people are trying to find their customers a British product.

"The pandemic has brought a lot of patriotic fervour and people standing shoulder to shoulder, saying we have to look after our own. It was much needed."

Mr Shand was appointed as interim CEO in May, replacing Chris Mallon - and it's been good news since then.

He joked: "From the time I was appointed, the farm gate production went up for nine weeks - I should have retired then!"