Meat must not be “whipping boy” on environment

The meat industry must not become the “whipping boy” over the environment, said John Cross, chairman of Eblex.

Speaking at the annual English Dinner at Anuga last week, Cross said: “Livestock production and the meat eating habit is at risk of becoming the whipping boy of climate change.”

He said he was concerned over the “steady stream of often ill-informed and unbalance negative coverage on the role of meat in diet and its effect on health and the wider environment”.

The industry needed to be proactive and ensure it was putting its own point of view across, he added.

“We must make sure the right information is out there and highlight the proactive steps the industry is taking together to address its responsibilities in this area.”

Cross said English red meat exports were continuing to see good growth, with lamb up 8% in volume and 30% in value and beef up 9% in volume and 40% in value on 2008.

He said lamb exports were important to the English sheep sector, and work was ongoing to encourage further growth in the French market.

“Given the huge importance of the French market, Eblex has placed a great deal of emphasis on working with our counterparts in France, Ireland and the rest of the UK to improve demand in that market.”

He said while the weakness of sterling was helpful, certainly with beef, lamb remained less reliant on the exchange rate, which he described as encouraging.

And he said there were still other markets through the EU and in third countries to develop further.

However he said access to third markets for beef remained “very limited”. “Making progress in this area is a key priority, especially if we are to get full value from the fifth quarter.”