Exports increase meat industry confidence

Strengthening demand for British beef, pork and lamb has created a genuine opportunity for livestock producers to become sustainable and profitable, reversing a long-term, slow decline, the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) has said.

President David Gunner told liverymen at the Worshipful Company of Butchers that a perfect storm of global population growth, food security concerns and climate change pressures had all led to increased demand. “Our export markets are open again and thriving, and we are developing genuine worldwide markets for British products” he said.

Government attitudes have changed, partly because the global economic situation has changed and partly because the latest government has a different political view, he suggested. There was a feeling under the previous government that the industry was mistrusted, but now there was an apparent willingness to make a new start with a commitment to provide better regulation.

A task force to investigate the issue – led by former NFU director general Richard Macdonald – had reported and the government now had to put in place and practice the recommendations, Gunner said.
The industry supported the task force’s view that a new regulatory culture was needed.

“In the area such as meat inspection, which is an absolutely vital issue for us, we are actively working, with the Food Standards Agency’s co-operation, to explore a structure that continues to safeguard the consumer – this is an absolute necessity – but to do so in a more efficient and risk-based way, so responsible companies with good track records and systems will benefit from the concept of earned recognition. This could reward the better players with more flexibility and more control over their business strategies and services.

"For us meat inspection is a interesting trial ground to see if this new attitude of trust and partnership between regulator and regulated becomes a reality.”

However, Gunner concluded by warning the meat industry that it had to play its part and recognise it had a non-negotiable responsibility towards consumers.