"Before building the UK's country brand, solve the vet certification issue"
Veterinary certificates for British meat products sent to export remains a hot topic for the industry even if the government announced that is working on the country's brand for the food and beverage sector. Last month, the need for a strong national brand for food was emphasized by the EFRA Committee in the House of Commons but still, there are voices who think that other topics should represent a priority for the British government right now.
"Unlike most other sectors, the meat sector relies on UK government to negotiate veterinary approval for export to markets around the world. Other products are more reliant on ‘promotion’ in the market as they already have the choice of all markets to export to. This is a particular challenge for the meat sector. UK government has the ability to provide more opportunities for UK meat exports by focussing more resources on opening up new markets for the sector", said Kathie Doherty, Policy Director, International Meat Trade Association.
The International Meat Trade Association represents around 60 importers and exporters within the meat trade as well as more than 20 members from associated service industries such as cold storage, shipping lines and freight forwarders
"Our members facilitate exports of products which are not readily consumed in the UK such as pig’s trotters, chicken feet and find markets for them elsewhere. Without veterinary approval to export to a market, the meat industry cannot make use of any reduced tariffs into an export market agreed under a Free Trade Agreement. Defra and DIT will need to work closely together to ensure that meat exporters can benefit from the opportunities brought by future UK FTA's", she explained.
The veterinary certification for UK meat products that are going to be exported post-Brexit is a hot issue for over a year now, with no clear decision adopted until now. IMTA also signals the fact that disease such as avian influenza have blocked several large markets in the last couple of years (South Africa as an example for poultry exports) and reopening those markets it is a difficult task that may take years to perform. At the same time, high reliance on the markets inside the EU has limited the interest of British producers and officials to some other markets that are developing fast in different regions of the world, especially Asia.