Fresh meat exports from the UK are put at risk
The £8.7 billion (€9.6 billion) trade in meat, the bulk of which currently flows seamlessly to and from the EU and keeps the just-in-time food supply chain moving, is about to run into a huge brick wall. This is because the UK Government has declined to prioritise fresh meat products (and indeed most fresh food of any description) through British ports, warns the British Meat Processors Association.
"Our EU customers – the big supermarket chains and foodservice companies – are not concerned with how good or bad our customs system is, they just need to know we can deliver what they want, on time."Every extra hour that fresh meat is delayed in transit causes problems further on in the supply chain which devalues it. If expected delivery times extend beyond a certain point, it must be frozen which devalues it further and turns it into a very different product that isn’t what our customers are demanding and which they could buy from anywhere else in the world.
If fresh meat exports do not get priority over products like toasters (which don’t devalue every hour they’re delayed) it will undermine the reputation of British meat and remove a big competitive advantage British meat processors have over other countries, which is the ability to deliver fresh chilled meat to EU customers in a timely manner", commented Nick Allen, CEO of the British Meat Processors Association.
The current rules are something like this: if a lorry is carrying anything other than fresh or live seafood products or day-old chicks, it will just have to join the queue behind other lorries carrying everything from toasters to tissues. No account is taken of the perishability of the goods on board. according to BMPA, the new customs system will cause border chaos and standstills just at the point that British companies most need it to work.
"If meat exports are delayed, customers will simply start sourcing their meat from elsewhere. So, we are calling on Government to implement a graduated system to prioritise goods for export, with perishable food like sausages and fresh meat given a higher priority," added Mr Allen.
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