British Meat Processors Association
British Meat Processors Association

Live Updates

BMPA updates, as they happen, on developing issues in the meat industry.

Contains links to member only content.

12 Apr

Can AI deliver the next step change for the meat industry?

Lucas Daglish’s latest article highlights the increasing integration of AI technologies across different sectors of the meat supply chain. AI’s predictive analytics capabilities offer farmers insights into livestock management, enabling data-driven decisions for herd health and resource utilisation. On-farm AI monitoring systems enhance animal welfare by providing real-time insights into behaviour and health, allowing for early intervention and minimising losses.

In processing and distribution, AI-driven sorting and grading systems ensure consistent product quality while reducing manual labour and errors. And predictive maintenance systems optimise equipment management, minimising downtime and enhancing operational efficiency.

The integration of AI in the UK meat industry is shaping up to be a transformative force, promising greater efficiency, product quality, and environmental sustainability. Its adoption represents another significant step in the modernisation of this traditional sector.

Read more

12 Apr

Labelling: Flaws found in Government’s approach to pork labelling

A research team from several universities has analysed various methods of pig production from organic to indoor to RSPCA assured. Their analysis included land use, emissions, welfare and antibiotic use. They found that “none of the farm types performed consistently well across all four areas” although certain individual farms “did well in all domains”.

It illustrates the problem of developing a simple labelling system that is capable of telling the whole story behind how meat was produced. It’s not a simple case of outdoor and organic is ‘good’ or indoor is ‘bad’. It just doesn’t work that way. One of the report authors did a good explanation of why we can’t take such a simplistic approach on Farming Today this morning (listen from the start). She also explained that primary, farm-by-farm data could be the answer, but that is currently a long way off. New Food’s Grace Gallar has a good write up.

Read more

11 Apr

Allianz report on new UK border controls spells higher food prices

The introduction of new post-Brexit border controls in the UK is anticipated to cost businesses approximately £2 billion and contribute to higher inflation, according to a report by Allianz Trade. It says that, as these products represent around 6% of the basket of goods used to calculate UK headline inflation, these additional costs could raise inflation by 0.2%.

Starting on 30 April, the controls, agreed under Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal, are expected to be the equivalent of adding a 10% tariff to imports within the first year, with meat, dairy and fish most affected. But MP Jacob Rees-Mogg argues that the new border checks are “an unnecessary act of self harm that will increase prices in an era of inflation.”

In a separate report, UK in a Changing Europe highlight the increased pace of regulatory reforms in the run-up to European elections in June, contrasting it with the UK legislative agenda which has “all but dried up”. The issue here is the UK’s accelerating divergence from EU rules that will “de facto apply in the UK” for companies wishing to continue selling to our nearest and largest trading partner.

Read more

11 Apr

AHDB: New Director of International Trade Development appointed

On 3 June Richard Hampton will take up the role of AHDB’s Director of International Trade Development. He replaces Phil Hadley who leaves to become the Secretary General of the International Meat Secretariat.

Mr Hampton’s role is of key importance to UK meat processors in gaining access to new markets. While most products of animal origin we produce in the this country are sold on the domestic market, export markets are a vital for carcase balance and key to overall profitability.

Developing international trade for British meat is a role that demands a deep knowledge of the industry to facilitate technical solutions and export approval. It requires close working relationships with producers, processors, UK Government departments and their overseas equivalents. We’ve valued the contribution Phil Hadley made to advancing overseas trade, and we look forward to working closely with Richard over the coming years.

Read more

4 Apr

Interview: Nick Allen speaks to New Food Magazine about meat industry challenges

From strained import and export processes, labour shortages and controversial trade deals through to wider issues with the UK food supply chain and how politicians are addressing them, Nick Allen CEO of BMPA explained to Josh Minchin and Grace Galler what’s currently troubling the meat sector and why in its current form, Brexit is not working for the BMPA’s members.

Listen now

4 Apr

Borders: BMPA’s thoughts on the impending Common User Charge

Just in the nick of time, the Government has published information on rates and eligibility for the Common User Charge (CUC) which comes into effect on 30 April for imported and transiting animal and plant products coming into Great Britain. Companies affected by this have been frustrated at the delay in getting the details of charges and how they’ll be implemented. It leaves little time to adapt to the added expenses.

A question that’s already arisen is why low-risk POAO will be charged, but low-risk plants and plant products will not face a £10 per commodity line (up to 5 commodity lines). Perhaps that will be answered at an upcoming free to attend webinar on 10 April hosted by Defra to provide guidance, and answer such questions on the CUC.

But it’s small businesses that will be disproportionately affected. Their smaller volumes mean a higher cost per consignment, potentially making exports to GB unfeasible and forcing some small players to stop importing certain goods. If this happens it could lead to less choice for consumers and stoke food price inflation.

Once again, this scenario highlights the far-reaching consequences of Brexit.

Read more

4 Apr

Appointments: Glen Nimmo becomes new AHDB Pork Council Chair and joins main board

Fund manager and equity analyst for over 30 years, Glen Nimmo has taken up two positions at AHDB from 1 April. He now sits on the main AHDB Board and will be chairing the Pork sector council, picking up the baton of the pork sector five year plan, which will run for the duration of his three year tenure. Mr Nimmo started his career at his family business Nimmo Quality Meats, a multi-site integrated pork processing business, covering slaughter, primal processing and retail packing.

He’s also joined on the main council by fellow appointee Graeme Jack, who brings more than 30 years of experience in the agri-food sector, including as Communications Director for Müller UK & Ireland.

Read more

22 Mar

Food Security: MPs debate resilience in Britain’s food supply chain

Thursday 19 March saw MPs debate the current state of the UK’s food supply chain. Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Dyke raised the issue of “unfair supermarket buying practices” saying that “we need tougher regulations to address the imbalance of power”.

She also highlighted an issue that BMPA has been pressing for some time. She said: “We also need proper scrutiny of our trade deals. Even the former Environment Secretary, the right hon. Member for Camborne and Redruth (George Eustice), did not have a positive opinion of them, stating that the UK’s free trade deal with Australia was ‘not actually a very good deal for the UK’ “.

The debate continued, encompassing a wider discussion on how important government policy and legislation is to maintain a healthy food industry. BMPA’s belief is that it must be driven by an over-arching food strategy that accounts for all aspects of the food supply chain from farming subsidies and the environmental agenda through to labour, immigration, retailer dominance and consumer preferences. Until now, meddling with one part without proper consideration for the knock-on effects has not worked. Hopefully the annual Food Security Index (still being worked on) will reflect this.

Read the debate

21 Mar

Labelling: Peter Hardwick exposes the nonsensical premise of ‘Not for EU’ labelling

In his latest article, BMPA’s Trade Policy Advisor, Peter Hardwick, explains some of the damaging and even ridiculous consequences the Government’s new ‘Not for EU’ labelling mandate will impose on an already over-burdened system for trading within and beyond UK borders.

In an attempt “to ensure no incentive arises for businesses to avoid placing goods on the Northern Ireland market” we’ve ended up penalising all businesses (both here in the UK and our overseas suppliers of retail packaged goods) regardless of whether they sell into Northern Ireland by mandating that they include “Not for EU” on the label. Read Peter’s article to see just how much of a sledgehammer to crack a walnut this is, and the unintended consequences it could precipitate. Hint: the UK consumer will end up confused, paying more and getting less choice.

Read more

21 Mar

Borders: Uncertainty over meat imports still hangs over Portsmouth Border Post

Local Portsmouth Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson has delivered an excoriating assessment of government U-turns that will render their new, taxpayer-funded £7m port facility a virtual ‘white elephant’. This is because inspection requirements of the Border Target Operating Model, due to start 30 April, have changed so much since they first formed the brief for the facility’s construction.

Mr Vernon-Jackson fears that continuing uncertainty as to whether or not high risk products like meat and dairy can come into the port, plus the delay in confirming how port charges will be apportioned, will discourage companies from doing business with the port and force them to seek solutions elsewhere.

Read more

14 Mar

Pigs: Government response to pig industry review

The government response to AHDB’s pig industry review (published in April 2021) has been released this week. The review looked at how changes to the industry in the past decade could affect current legislation to meet future challenges relating to pig health and disease control.

This new document includes the government response, line by line, to each recommendation in the independent review on the structure of the pig industry in Great Britain. It covers issues such as data sharing and traceability systems across the devolved nations, and meeting requirements for the China market. Crucially, it says that Defra will support discussions with the major production companies (integrators) to inform development of the new system. BMPA will be reviewing the responses in detail and working closely with members, government and stakeholders to push for a solution that benefits consumers and works for the industry.

Read more

14 Mar

Labelling: Government launches consultation on ‘fairer’ food labelling of pork, chicken and eggs

Defra is calling for responses to a consultation into food labelling, which aims to improve transparency and consumer choice. Among other things, It says one of the aims is to allow people to choose between products that meet or ‘fall below’ UK animal welfare standards.

The consultation runs until 7 May ‘2024.

Read more

14 Mar

Workforce: Home Secretary’s response on labour shortage shows he’s not acknowledging the problem

With the new one-size-fits-all £38,700 immigration rule about to be implemented, we wrote to James Clevery to explain the impact it will have on the meat industry, particularly in light of Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey’s assertion that the UK is “at or near full employment”. But the Home Secretary’s response makes it clear that he either doesn’t appreciate or won’t acknowledge the scale of the problem.

So, BMPA has now written to Minister of State Tom Pursglove calling for him to arrange an urgent meeting with the CEOs of Britain’s largest meat companies so they can lay out the damaging consequences of this policy including food inflation, withdrawal of investment, weakened domestic food security and lower economic growth.

Read our letter to Tom Pursglove (PDF)

Read our letter to James Cleverly (PDF)

14 Mar

Exports: Unforeseen trade barriers with Australia surface since the deal was signed

British farmers and manufacturers are discovering the hidden shortcomings of the new free trade agreements that our government has been negotiating over the past few years. Farmers Weekly journalist Michael Priestly has been delving further into the barriers to trade that were inadvertently written into the Australian deal and quotes AHDB’s Phil Hadley on how the approval process to rectify it (by requesting access for British beef into the Aussie market) could take between 3 and 5 years.

In his letter to Kemi Badenoch (PDF), Nick Allen, CEO of BMPA, proposed a solution which we would strongly urge the Government to also consider during future trade negotiations. He says that government should request “that Australia reciprocate and allow the import of UK beef and lamb without preconditions. If needed this can be done on the basis of pre-listing, allowing trade to commence with audits taking place later and regularly thereafter in the normal manner”.

Read more

8 Mar

Vets: EFRA Committee to hear evidence on vet shortages

The EFRA Committee will hear evidence on Tuesday 12 March on the continued shortage of Official Veterinarians available to work in the meat supply chain, which threatens to seize-up the UK’s meat export trade. With the extra pressure of new import checks, this will only get worse. 

This begs the question: is it now time to review the roles of vets in the food supply chain? Should we consider a similar system to ones in operation in several European countries like Spain? This is where Meat Inspectors receive special training, which is a subset of full veterinary training, so they can deliver the appropriate level of expertise in the meat supply setting. It’s akin to the division of labour between Dental Surgeons and Dental Nurses. If this kind of role were to be created, it would substantially reduce the pressure on the small number Official Veterinarians and reduce the reliance on immigration to fill the workforce gaps.

Read more

8 Mar

Welsh government farming proposals will cost jobs and damage the economy

The British Meat Processors Association has written to the Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, Lesley Griffiths, to raise deep concerns about proposals in the Consultation on the Sustainable Farm Scheme. We believe it will damage the economy, reduce tourism, impact biodiversity and discourage future investment in Wales.

By the Welsh Government’s own calculation, the new scheme will see 5500 jobs lost in agriculture, and see livestock production reduced by 122,000 livestock units, which is equivalent to 90% of the beef processing in Wales. You can read our press release and the full letter.

Read more

8 Mar

Trade: Uneven Oz trade deal shuts out British beef exports

It has recently emerged that, under the UK/Australia free trade agreement (FTA) which was hurriedly rushed through by Liz Truss, we are prepared to import Australian meat and meat products without restriction, but are unable to export British beef to that market despite there being an FTA.

This lop-sided agreement that precludes UK producers from exporting beef products to Australia only came to light when one enterprising company tried to do it. They currently have a ready made Aussie market with a healthy demand for their beef jerky but, because there’s no reciprocal agreement for beef, they can’t supply it, and will probably see their customers turn to other countries like South Africa to source the product.

There’s a bigger picture to consider here. We need to impress upon the Government that such an oversight can’t happen again when negotiating future free trade agreements, and we’ve written to Secretary of State for Business and Trade, Kemi Badenoch to highlight the issue. If government is going to encourage businesses to reap the Brexit benefits of finding new trading partners further afield, they mustn’t then hobble their chances with badly thought-through trade deals.

Read our letter (PDF)

7 Mar

Diet: Scotland pioneers research into effects of meat reduction on people and the planet

In response to calls from the Climate Change Committee (CCC) to “take low-cost, low-regret actions to encourage a 20% shift away from all meat by 2030, rising to 35% by 2050”, The Scottish Government has commissioned research to model the potential impacts, both good and bad.

The findings paint a surprising picture.

Read more

7 Mar

Borders: New EU entry/exit system could disrupt flow of fresh produce to and from UK

Logistics UK has issued warnings about potential traffic delays and disruptions as the new EU entry/exit system (to collect travellers’ biometric data) is implemented in October ’24.

Speaking before the Government’s European scrutiny committee, Nichola Mallon, head of trade and devolved policy at Logistics UK, said these delays could have dire consequences for the shelf life of fresh produce and could lead to a significant reduction in EU imports of perishable products, and jeopardise UK exports.

The implications extend beyond logistical challenges, with concerns raised about the impact on driver recruitment and retention. And it can only make it less attractive for European hauliers to take on deliveries to the UK in the face of such long queues at the border.

27 Feb

Trade: MPs call for vote on joining the CPTPP before a deal is signed

In a new report, MPs on the Business and Trade Committee have called for the Government to allow lawmakers a debate and a vote on joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) trade bloc.

The Committee says MPs must have their say due to controversial aspects of joining the trade bloc – and the lack of clarity over the benefits of doing so. They say that more scrutiny is needed over imports of controversial agri-food products including beef and pork treated with growth promoters that is currently banned in the UK (although separate trade negotiations with Canada covering just this seem to have broken down, despite the interim agreement to trade on EU terms being due to run out at the end of March).

Even more contentious is the possibility of signing up to CPTPP provisions to allow foreign investors to sue the UK Government over actions and policies that damage their profits. We await a government response.

Read more

26 Feb

Borders: New Defra guidance on common errors using the new BTOM

Since the new Border Target Operation Model was introduced, Defra have been compiling a list of common errors and problems that users of the system have been encountering. These range from import notification errors like an EU address being provided for the operator responsible for a consignment instead of a UK address, to no regionalisation code being provided on an export health certificate.

This list isn’t exhaustive and will no doubt expand over time as operators report problems they’re encountering, but it may include information and links that members find useful.

Read more

26 Feb

Migration: Nick Allen letter to James Cleverly warns of “catastrophic effect” on meat workforce

Nick Allen, Chief Executive of the British Meat Processors Association has written to the Home Secretary James Cleverly to outline the damage to the UK meat and wider food industry that the new one-size-fits-all £38,700 immigration rule will inflict.

Forcing companies to take on overseas butchers at £38,700 represents a 49% increase to current salary levels which sit around £26,200 for a worker in the UK, and would instantly spark a raft of Equal Pay Claims under the Equality Act 2010. Concerns over worker shortages in the food industry have been voiced by numerous players including Scottish Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon. Read our latest press release to find out why this is so problematic and the remedy BMPA is suggesting.

Read more

22 Feb

Assurance: Red Tractor to keep calm and carry on

In an interview with Farming Today this week, Red Tractor Chair Christine Tacon responded to the publication of Campbell Tickell’s report into the assurance body’s governance. While the report found that governance was sound, if somewhat complex, it highlighted the need for better communication and engagement with its boards, committees, stakeholders and members. This, Ms Tacon said, is what she will be focusing on while a second review is underway (but which could take up to two years to complete).

That second review will be tackling issues surrounding the ownership structure of Assured Food Standards and how to balance interests represented on the board. The time is certainly right to address these issues and take a fresh look at the structure of assurance and the role it plays in the industry, as Nick Allen recently discussed with The Grocer’s Kevin White for his excellent focus report on Red Tractor.

Listen (from 2:28 minutes)

22 Feb

Trade: Peter Hardwick tells Mariella Frostrup on Times Radio the true cost of post-Brexit red tape

Jack Simpson’s Guardian article this week has been doing the rounds as it exposes the true cost and impact of post-Brexit export requirements for the food industry. New data from the SPS Certification Working Group, of which BMPA is a member, shows a slump in meat exports alone of 17% since 2019 and £170m in added cost for exporters just on certification.

This was quickly picked up by other media outlets and Peter Hardwick was interviewed by Marialla Frostrup on Times Radio to explain the implications for the meat industry and also what it would take to fix it.

Listen to Peter’s interview (from 1:40:21)

22 Feb

Industry: Notes from the recent meeting of reputation of meat group now online

Following the latest Reputation of Meat meeting which took place on 14 February, the full recording and slide deck are now available to view in the Members’ Portal for those not able to attend.

Sarah Miller of QMS gave an update on the outcomes of COP28 followed by AHDB’s environmental update. Presenters also went through the Eco Working Group’s latest policy recommendations to Defra including scope 3 reporting guidance for our sector, the collection and quality of primary and secondary data and how to ensure eco-labels accurately communicate environmental impact and are adaptable as science develops.

The importance of this last point is borne out by what’s just happened in Australia, where Anthony Albanese’s government has changed the Australian Dietary Guidelines to incorporate the impact of certain foods on climate change.

Read more

15 Feb

Exports: AHDB planning a new online knowledge hub for exporters

AHDB are calling for responses to a survey that will inform how they develop and deliver a new knowledge hub for exporters. Depending on your responses it will include the latest on import requirements to ensure continued access to markets, pending changes that will require action by your business, such as: business name change and China Import Food Enterprise Registration (CIFER). It could also offer training tools such as webinars, animations and videos as well as updates and changes to Export Health Certificates, including for newly accessed markets. Survey closes midnight 20 March ’24.

Complete the survey

15 Feb

Training: Small window to have your say on apprenticeship content and assessment

This week the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) opened a nationwide consultation for the revised Level 2 Butcher assessment plan. There’s a short window to complete it by 25 Feb 2024, but it’s a good opportunity for the wider meat industry to have their say on both the content and the trail blazer group’s proposed method of assessments. In particular, we think companies can address changing the written knowledge test to a multiple choice format.

Complete the survey

15 Feb

Labelling: The unintended consequences of Government’s new ‘Not for EU’ labelling

Far from providing clear explanation, the latest information about the new requirement for all retail packed agrifood products to include ‘Not for EU’ on their label from 1 October ’24 has prompted more un-answered questions. There are several parts to the draft regulation (PDF) – including which businesses and products might be exempt – that are still ‘to be confirmed’.

What hasn’t been widely discussed is that, along with all products produced in the UK, retail-packed products imported from our EU and some rest of the world suppliers will also need to bear the ‘Not for EU’ mark. This will mean split production runs and all the expense and loss of flexibility and efficiency that goes with that. At the very least it will add to their costs which will be passed on to the UK consumer. But it might also prove to be a disincentive to supply to the UK for some producers.

For the meat industry there will be less of an impact as the majority of imported meat is processed and packed in the UK. But it may have more of an impact on other parts of the food supply chain that do import retail-packed products, and particularly when the requirement is extended to all food items in July 2025. You can have your say here until 15 March ’24.

15 Feb

Workforce: New migration rule is inflationary and anti-growth

With the new one-size-fits-all £38,700 immigration rule only seven weeks away, there’s growing panic amongst companies across the whole UK economy that it will either strangle growth or stoke inflation.

The issue nobody is talking about is how this might spark a raft of Equal Pay Claims under the Equality Act 2010, as existing British workers have a legal right to demand to be paid an equal salary for the same work as their newly arrived overseas colleagues. And yet Government is ploughing ahead with this seismic policy change without having produced any impact assessment of the damage it could cause.

We’re calling on policy makers to include butchers on the new Immigration Salary List which would reduce the salary floor to £30,960. This is still more than most British butchers are getting paid now, and is over 50% more than the official Government ‘Going Rate’ of £20,400 for a British worker.

Read more

9 Feb

Borders: Dover chiefs threaten Government with legal action over food checks

We’re hearing today that Dover District Council and its Port Health Authority are on the verge of launching a legal challenge to the Government decision to move lorry inspections 22 miles inland to the new Sevington border facility instead of carrying them out at the actual Dover border. They contend that it breaks their legal duties to keep the UK’s food supply safe amid fears the move could increase the risk of diseases.

They’ll ask the High Court to rule whether ministers have broken a series of laws including fully considering the evidence of the risks. The BBC’s Dominic Casciani has the details.

Read more

9 Feb

Labelling: New Government consultation coming on meat labelling

Asked recently about Defra’s plan to increase the information provided on food labelling, Mark Spencer MP said that the Government will be launching a rapid consultation. It will explore options for improving method of production and country-of-origin labelling, how to better highlight imports that do not meet UK welfare standards.

In terms of country-of-origin labelling, it will look at improving how and where origin information is displayed – including for minimally processed meat, such as bacon and ham – and what products should be in scope. He added that the exact details of the consultation will be published in due course. While we await the announcement, Footprint’s Nick Hughes has a handy overview of the confusing plethora of competing food labelling systems and consultations that make up today’s food labelling landscape.

Read more

8 Feb

Sheep: Nan Jones on why we need a different approach to EU trade

In her latest article, BMPA’s Technical Policy Manager, Nan Jones focuses on the UK sheep sector and its reliance on exporting to the EU. She explains that, contrary to what many might think, “some part of every animal which is produced for slaughter in the UK will be exported to the EU. For this to be allowed, every part of the supply chain must comply with EU public and animal health rules, meaning the UK is already aligning with the EU.”

She highlights that this proof of compliance has been gold-plated by UK authorities, with the introduction of a new Veterinary Attestation which goes above and beyond what the EU mandates.

Read more

8 Feb

TODCOF: New border control system not world beating just yet

Barely a week into the new Border Target Operating Model roll-out and it transpires in a new Government contingency planning document that we’re going to need a safety valve in case border control posts are overwhelmed and unable to complete documentary checks after April. This will come in the form of the Todcof or “Timed-out decision contingency feature” which will allow border officials who’ve not had chance to check 24-hour pre-notified documents before a lorry arrives to simply clear it for entry anyway and wave it through.

This neatly illustrates one of the concerns we’ve raised that full border checks originally designed around unaccompanied container shipments are simply not suited to roll-on-roll-off lorry consignments of short shelf-life products like fresh meat.

Read more

8 Feb

Farming: We could learn a thing or two from Canada

Similar to the UK, Canada is experiencing increasing labour shortages in their agri-food industry which is threatening their future food security. But the similarity ends there. The Canadian Government has introduced the Agri-Food Pilot which seeks to attract suitably qualified immigrants to take on or start their own farming operations and work in the wider industry as butchers, meat cutters, food processors and livestock workers.

Unlike the new UK immigration rules being introduced, the Canadian Pilot actively seeks to remove barriers, improve accessibility and encourage applicants to take up these economically critical roles.

The contrast in approach to this existential problem can be seen in AHDB’s latest Agri-Market Outlook 2024. In its introduction, David Eudall highlights “a domestic supply side under risk of erosion from unpredictable climate, higher costs and environmental schemes implemented in isolation from food production”. We’d also add an immigration policy, free trade agreements and export barriers that are strangling the British food industry’s ability to thrive and grow.

Read more

2 Feb

Meat: BMPA member ABP talk to BBC’s Evan Davis about the evolving meat industry

In his latest episode of The Bottom Line, Evan Davis takes a deep dive into the meat industry to shine a light on how the industry works with his three guests, Phil Hambling, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at ABP Food Group, pig farmer Anna Longthorp, and independent butcher Charlotte Mitchell. UK meat consumption is at its lowest since 1974. The panellists discuss why this has come about and explore the challenges and opportunities facing the modern British meat industry.

It’s a fantastic, wide-ranging discussion that dispels a lot of misunderstanding surrounding how meat is produced, standards, environment and how the industry is adapting and changing to meet new challenges.

If you listen to one thing this weekend, make it this.

Listen