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Always believe in yourself

I had always dreamed that, one day, I ‘d be my own boss and own my own business. But never in my wildest dreams did I think it would come true, certainly after hitting a few barriers in my personal life.

To serve or not to serve...

It's an age-old problem and one that isn’t going to go away in a hurry. How do you stop your customers reading the labels on a box and calling your supplier to get served direct, thereby cutting out the middle man – aka the wholesaler – and saving a few pence? 

Capitalise on the BBQ opportunity

So far our island has been blessed with a pretty good summer and that can only mean one thing: the traditional British BBQ. 

What's behind poultry's antibiotic success?

The British Poultry meat industry used 23.72 tonnes (t) of antibiotics in 2016, a 71% reduction in the use of antibiotics in the last four years. 

Electronic ID promises huge efficiency gain

As a member of the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) Traceability Design Board, we’ve been looking at how industry could mandate the introduction of bovine electronic identification (EID) tagging alongside the introduction of a new replacement database to record animal movement history.  

Competing on a global scale

Well, what can I say about the World Butchers’ Challenge, other than the 2018 competition in Belfast is going to be the world’s biggest butchery competition to date. 

Consistency, consistency, consistency!

If I take myself back to the great days and nights spent working in top kitchens and, more recently, in business, one word resounds in my mind…  consistency. It was drilled into me as a young chef and is still very much ringing in my ears.

Growing up in the auction market

Watching the TV programme Antiques Roadshow, from an auction market in Elgin in the north of Scotland, reminded me of my youth, travelling to markets with my father and then later on my own business. 

Demand for scientists and engineers in poultry

The British poultry industry’s technological advancements in food production as well as investment in automation have increased efficiency and product choice while creating a growing demand for specialised roles such as food scientists and engineers. 

Container traffic growth defies expectations

Port congestion in China has highlighted an unexpected upturn in world container traffic, which has grown robustly in the first quarter this year. In 2015-16, the average quarterly rate of growth for loaded container traffic was 2.3%, however provisional trade lane data from Container Trades Statistics (CTS) indicates that global container traffic may have surged by as much as 10%. 

How bright is the future of retail butchery?

This piece is an honest account of the challenges which I personally see in our industry. It may be controversial and people may have different opinions on some of the content written, however when all told this is my livelihood, my life and my passion. 

Support for British beef is growing

We've had an interesting couple of weeks and I recently attended the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) Brexit conference in Co Kildare to hear, first-hand, the concerns posed by the UK’s decision to leave the EU. 

Time to exit LaLa land

So Brexit will dominate, say officials, with no new legislation for three to five years except a great repeal bill… la la la. 

Trust is key in troubled times

The NFU's John Royle discusses how people return to what they trust when there's a meat scandal. 

Time for barbecue season

With some great promotional weeks and events behind us such as Mother’s Day, National Butchers’ Week and Easter, hopefully everyone had some strong trading weeks and did their bit to promote the industry. 

The Wider Effect of Brexit – Changes in the Price of Fuel, Feed, Fertiliser, and Access to Workers

Austin SmithersThe tremors following the EU referendum have reached far and wide and for some businesses, the recent fall in the Pound against currencies like the US Dollar and Euro, has ended up costing them more. There’s been great concern over the number of workers to fill positions post-Brexit. 100,000 EU citizens living in Britain headed elsewhere in the three months following the EU referendum and there’s been a 14% decline in new worker registrations from Hungary, a 16% fall from Poland, and a 20% drop in workers form Slovakia.

Shifting alliances in the global shipping sector

The international shipping sector is to see some major changes in the coming weeks with new alliances emerging. 

Trump and Brexit: they're good, right?

Let me put it out there right before we start. I voted remain and, if I could, I would have voted against Trump. 

Give plant processing workers the status they deserve

Unskilled is a word that gets me on my soapbox at the moment. No-one who has seen workers in action in processing plants or on farms can think for one second that these people are anything other than highly skilled. But this is what labour coming from Europe is classed as, in immigration terms. 

Engaging employees for high performance In general, the meat industry is a people intensive industry

Mary ThompsonEngaging employees for high performance In general, the meat industry is a people intensive industry.  It takes people to raise animals, to slaughter them humanely and to process them efficiently. 

US Trade Representative is considering the reinstatement of tariffs

John RoyleI read with interest over Christmas that the US Trade Representative (USTR) is considering the reinstatement of tariffs on a range of EU products, including beef, sheep meat, pork and poultry. 

Hoping for a smoother ride in 2017

2016 was certainly a different year especially in the celebrity world. Between the ‘romance’ of Tom Hiddleston and Taylor Swift and the deaths of David Bowie and George Michael, there were more than a few highs and lows to shake things up!

Some positive results in 2016

As always the NFU livestock team has been working hard in 2016 and we’ve had some significant wins for the sector in the past 12 months. I’d like to touch on some. 

Overcapacity is taking its toll

Rob Shelly of Maritime Cargo Services looks at overcapacity and its impact on the global shipping industry. 

A roller coaster of a year

Who’d be a pollster after what’s happened in 2016? 

Get your pigs in blankets out from the cold!

What leaps to mind when you think of the traditional Christmas lunch? 

Get your piece of the Christmas feast

Christmas is coming and our research shows that most shoppers plan to buy their festive meat from supermarkets. 

Pigs in truck
‘Save’ Brigade: You cannot be serious

If you’re an FBO carrying out your daily business you could be forgiven for not understanding my headline. Bear with me. 

Lamb prices sizzle as pound waivers

As we reach autumn there is a spring in the step of sheep farmers as returns from the market exceed last year, when they failed to cover the cost of production. The major impact in this has been the fall in the value of sterling post-referendum, which has made British lamb far more competitive in European markets. 

Make your waste work for your business

Waste is a hot topic issue but there is an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive, writes Ruth Cousins. 

Free-from friends can ruin pub meals if you're not careful

Nicholas Robinson delves into the pitfalls of eating out with friends who are on a free-from phase. 

The inevitable conclusion of low rates

As August came to its close, the world's seventh largest - and South Korea's biggest - container shipping line, Hanjin Shipping, filed for court receivership, consumed by mounting debt schedules with creditors and increasing industry overcapacity. 

Premium products are the way forward

While at times it felt as though summer didn’t really happen in 2016, there was plenty of positivity. 

We need to turn short-term success into long-term gains

Charles SercombeThe livestock sector is already seeing the impact of the vote to leave the EU. Initially, the favourable exchange rate has helped support farm gate prices. 

Don't fall for silly season this summer

Norman BagleyThis silly season’s story award has to go to the writers of a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and reported in The Times. 

What does ‘out’ mean for foodservice industry?

Nicholas RobinsonLazy young Brits won’t fill the void in the foodservice sector and the manufacturing industry that ill-educated and shortsighted Brexit voters may have created with last month’s EU referendum result. 

No need to panic over Brexit just yet

Rob ShelleySince Britain voted to leave the EU, a tsunami of panic has been unleashed, with politicians and commentators mixing spin, opportunism, mis-information and occasional facts to nourish the national unease. It’s easy to forget we have only voted to leave the governing machine of the EU, yet otherwise we remain part of Europe. 

The right person for the job

Gary SimpsonAs everyone in the retail sector of our industry is fully aware, probably the most challenging part of running a business is finding the right personnel. 

A negative impact on returns

Charles SercombeThe major talking point among livestock farmers in recent weeks has been the impact of the new buying specifications for beef that has produced a major negative effect on their returns.

Locally sourced meat isn't rocket science

Ruth CousinsLocally sourced meat in local shops doesn’t sound like rocket science however it is not an opportunity that is often seized in convenience stores. We spoke to shoppers and 39% said that locally produced fresh meat is an important determining factor when choosing to visit that store. So why aren’t more stores doing it?

Time to support British meat

Nicholas RobinsonIt still shocks me that the majority of the meat served in pubs is just not British, despite the pub being a bastion of Britishness.

What will be the trade impact of a Brexit?

Rob Shelley discusses the impact of the EU referendum on the shipping industry.  

Brexit: A shout for going out

So we are nearly there, the big vote after months of lies and tosh on both sides. From my own personal point of view I'm an outer as rightly or wrongly I consider the whole EU construct to be nothing more than a virtual tyranny without the arms. 

Overcrowding in the shipping industry

A recent survey by global shipping data source Alphaliner has revealed that, of the 16 main carriers which published financial results for 2015, just half recorded operating profits in the face of challenging market conditions. On closer inspection, their average operating margin was just 0.3%. 

Chinese demand looks set to continue

In 2015, the European Union exported just over a million tonnes of pork to China. Trade stats for the first few months of 2016 suggest a significant increase in exports, and this looks to be a continuing trend. 

Discussing costs at the SAMW conference

I always enjoy going to the SAMW conference each year, not just for the whisky, the presentations aren't bad either!  It was interesting last week to glean that competition is emerging between Food Standard Scotland and Aviation House on cost of meat inspection, nearly 10 years after Tierney recommended competition to be a key requirement for change to the FSA Board. 

Brazil: A puzzling development

The most puzzling current development in the international meat trade refers to Brazil. Over the last decade, meat production there has increased and large meat processing groups have been created, which have taken advantage of the rising appetite for beef, chicken and pork among the growing Brazilian middle class. 

AIMS urges higher value beef focus

In a response to the National Beef Association’s assertion that beef prices have reached a five-year low (meatinfo.co.uk, 11 April), Norman, Bagley, head of policy at the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS), disagrees and argues that a shift in focus to higher-value areas of the market is the necessary course of action:

Disruptions in the meat industry

Rob ShelleyCast your mind back to summer 2015. ‘Operation Stack’ saw 6,000 trucks jammed in a 35-mile queue on the M20 in Kent for many hours each day. The Freight Transport Association (FTA) estimated the daily cost to be £750,000 as HGVs idled and the UK supply chain suffered. 

Questions over SOLAS implementation

Many say the EU is full of red tape, but we seem perfectly capable of tying business up all by ourselves. New international regulations on safety at sea (SOLAS) are due to arrive in July 2016, requiring verified weighing of containers. Everyone supports the reasoning behind the regulations: to prevent destabilising a vessel etc.