From Bowes to Bikes

The purchase of Bowes by Yorkshire-based Cranswick brings to a halt the ongoing acquisition of the UK pig processing sector by overseas operators.

While the purchase of Grampian by Vion was a welcome move - it ensured the survival of the UK-based operation and saw a strong new business enter the UK market - it is good to see some pig processing capacity remaining in UK-owned hands. In particular, the deal strengthens Cranswick's position as number three in the pig processing market.

The annual Outlook Conference, organised by EBLEX and BPEX, provided good food for thought. None of the speakers was able to paint a rosy picture for the next 12 months, but the view wasn't entirely bleak. Consumer demand for meat is falling, but so is production, helping to keep prices stable. And the weakness in sterling is opening up real opportunities for export.

I would also urge all in the industry to heed Richard Lowe's warning to tackle the environmental challenges facing our sector - to allow the "eat less meat" lobby to seize the initiative would be dangerous.

And finally... a harsh regime of gruelling training has yet to get under way for some of the cyclists on the Butchers on Bikes team. With less than two months to go before the epic trek from Smithfield to Paris, the team has been dusting off their helmets and bikes and, so far, has only had one injury reported!

One team member does admit to being overtaken by an old lady on a mobility scooter, which does not bode well for him reaching Paris by the Monday. However, he also claims to have set off a speed camera as well (going downhill with a following wind, we suspect!). Please support us by visiting www.justgiving.com/butchers-on-bikes and making a donation - all gratefully received.