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.
So Brexit will dominate, say officials, with no new legislation for three to five years except a great repeal bill… la la la.
The NFU's John Royle discusses how people return to what they trust when there's a meat scandal.
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 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.
The international shipping sector is to see some major changes in the coming weeks with new alliances emerging.
Let me put it out there right before we start. I voted remain and, if I could, I would have voted against Trump.
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. It takes people to raise animals, to slaughter them humanely and to process them efficiently.
I 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.
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!
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.
Rob Shelly of Maritime Cargo Services looks at overcapacity and its impact on the global shipping industry.
Who’d be a pollster after what’s happened in 2016?
What leaps to mind when you think of the traditional Christmas lunch?
Christmas is coming and our research shows that most shoppers plan to buy their festive meat from supermarkets.
If you’re an FBO carrying out your daily business you could be forgiven for not understanding my headline. Bear with me.
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.
Waste is a hot topic issue but there is an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive, writes Ruth Cousins.
Nicholas Robinson delves into the pitfalls of eating out with friends who are on a free-from phase.
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.
While at times it felt as though summer didn’t really happen in 2016, there was plenty of positivity.
The 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.
This 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.
Lazy 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.
Since 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.
As 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.
The 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 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?
It still shocks me that the majority of the meat served in pubs is just not British, despite the pub being a bastion of Britishness.
Rob Shelley discusses the impact of the EU referendum on the shipping industry.
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.
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%.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Cast 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.
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.
Custom data released recently show that exports of meat and livestock products fell by an estimated 8.5% to £2.15bn in 2015. This represents the first fall since the early 2000s but should not come as a surprise as all commodities fell in 2015 and the value of sterling rose by more than 20% against the euro.
A recent article in the Farmers Weekly magazine, claiming New Zealand exporters are “misusing their EU quota” and “flooding” the UK lamb market, fails to recognise that trends in lamb consumption have changed considerably since the early 1980s.
Demand for and trade in meat is dependent on incomes and the economies of individual countries and on currency variations.
With an impressive 50% growth in the global meat trade over the past 10 years, meat shippers may have been thinking that Christmas was never-ending. Yet the past three years have witnessed a slowing of the meat trade rate to less than half the growth previously experienced.
At the recent IMTA Forum, international trade negotiations opened proceedings. TTIP (EU/US) is currently in its 12th round of negotiations and many more are likely to be required before it can be signed off.
Happy exporters are back from Food & Hotel China (FHC) in Shanghai, an event marked by the visit of Secretary of State for the Environment Liz Truss to China. The five major UK pork processors all now have representation in mainland China, a testimony to our commercial progress. They are highly positive regarding prospects and report brisk sales.
The meat industry opens several doors to people who may not necessarily want to follow a career in butchery – such as engineering, IT or even sales and purchasing – the opportunities really are endless.
About 15% of the world’s population suffer from chronic hunger, we grow enough food but it is not distributed properly and many cannot afford it. By 2050 the world population will increase by 2 or 3 billion, there will be increased use of agricultural land for biofuels and higher incomes will increase demand for food. This could double the need for food production providing of course we solve the problems of access and poverty.
Just back from Central Africa, it is worth reflecting on these important markets. After Asia, Africa is the main region where British meat is exported outside Europe. The mission we organised was not for the faint-hearted. For example, this was the first ever British commercial mission to take place in Kinshasa, the metropolis of Central Africa. Visas, immigration procedures and difficult logistics add to the difficulty.
Ahead of the forthcoming negotiations in Brussels on the use of nitrites in meat products, discussions between the FSA and industry are in full swing.
"He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee." When Nietzsche made this statement he was talking about how we are manipulated by the language and morality we have inherited, in which we unthinkingly create our own fears.