SAMW president commits to regulatory reforms

The meat processing industry is stuck in a “high-cost regulatory time-warp”, according to the new president of the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW).

Alan Craig (pictured) said some regulations were damaging to businesses and a threat to the future viability of many rural communities. “We are constantly talking to officials from [the Food Standards Agency, Meat Hygiene Service and SEPA]... but unfortunately, translating agreement into action is invariably a tortuous task.”

Craig vowed to seek progress on regulatory reforms, such as on the “totally outdated requirement” of Veterinary Medicine Directorate residue testing, which cost some companies thousands of pounds.

He said a fairer regulatory system would go some way to compensating for an awaited increase in retail prices, which would take time to make an impact. “The current economy is unlikely to allow major retail price growth to be achieved in the short-term, no matter how justified such a rise in retail values may be.”

The task of absorbing the equivalent of 15 years of cost inflation in just six months
(during the first half of 2008) had intensified the commercial pressures facing Scotland’s meat processors, added Craig. “Margins certainly haven’t grown during 2008/2009 and that has left SAMW member companies facing a major business challenge.”

Craig recently took over the SAMW post from Allan Jess, who was president for three-and-a-half years.