BMPA updates, as they happen, on developing issues in the meat industry.
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1 day ago
We’re feeling a sense of deja vu this week after hearing the details of the trade deal with New Zealand. We won’t give you all the detail here but we will dust off the comment we made after the Aussie deal was agreed. Peter Hardwick, BMPA’s Trade Policy Advisor said then that “it’s not the amount of meat by weight that matters it is the amount of high-end, high value cuts that will have a disproportional impact on the marketplace.”
So here’s another deal with another country that massively increases access to the UK market; and in the case of sheep meat fully liberalises it. On the other side of the coin, Peter Hardwick explains: “Given that most New Zealand tariff rates were already set at zero, and UK to NZ trade in our sectors is minimal, I don’t think this is of particular benefit to us”.
It’s easy to strike trade deals when you agree to everything. But if this kind of generous deal is repeated with more countries, the competition our producers will face from cheaper imports, just as their overheads are rising, will push them out of the domestic market and render them uncompetitive on the international market.
A deleted report by the Government’s ‘Nudge Unit came to light this week. It explores a whole range of measures to ‘nudge’ people into changing their behaviour. It also has some strong caveats, warning of the unintended consequences of well intentioned policies that ‘back fire’. We have some thoughts.
The Government has announced the launch of the new Trade and Agriculture Commission (TAC), as part of their response to the previous Commission’s recommendations. The TAC’s advice will inform a report which will be laid before Parliament ahead of the ratification of any new FTA and following the signature stage.
The Government will also set out more detail on measures being introduced to support farmers including a new cohort of international ‘agri-food attachés’ who will work to promote export opportunities for UK farmers and producers. There will also be a new Food and Drink Export Council to work in collaboration with industry and governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to promote exports from all parts of the UK.
Businesses that manufacture or import plastic packaging can sign up for HMRC’s “Get Ready for Plastic Packaging Tax Webinars” to learn more and ask questions about what needs to be done before the tax comes into force on 1 April 2022.
The first webinar: Administration and Technical Aspects will cover the technical points about recycled plastic and exemptions from tax. It’s scheduled for 1:45pm on Tuesday 26 October and 11:45am on Friday 12 November. You can sign up here.
The second webinar: Introduction to Plastic Packaging Tax covers how the tax will operate. It will take place at 1:45pm on Monday 8 November. Sign up here.
We’ve been working with the DWP to highlight the issues facing meat processors and they have offered some support to help members link in with their local Jobcentres. They will be attending a Teams meeting at 3:15pm on 2 November for BMPA members who are currently recruiting to talk about how this might work in practice.
On the call there will be a team of work coaches and employer advisers from the relevant Jobcentre Plus Districts as well as Kay Dungworth who is Head of Portfolio for the National Employer and Partnership Team. They want to hear from members about the sector and the issues we’re facing then discuss with us the DWP offer and have an open forum for questions.
Any BMPA members interested in joining the call should contact Nan Jones on 020 7329 0776.
AHDB recently presented to BMPA members some of their latest research on the reputation of meat along with a toolkit to help firms manage the meat narrative around COP26 and beyond, information on the UK-Australia trade deal and insights into consumer trust and the challenges for 2022. There are some interesting graphics illustrating the changes in consumer attitudes and behaviour.
The National Food Crime Unit has been publishing a bi-monthly newsletter to keep food businesses informed of what they believe to be the current issues that are affecting the food industry. It aims to improve awareness of significant or new trends in the industry in order to strengthen the overall response to food crime.
Freight forwarding firm Unsworth will be joining the BMPA members’ Friday call on the 29th October at 2pm to deliver a one hour webinar with Q&As on how members can achieve a frictionless process when sending Delivery Duty Paid (DDP) goods to the EU. They have written a white paper on the process.
The past couple of months have delivered ample evidence that Britain has an acute and worsening labour crisis across many strategically important sectors. Staffing and skills gaps exist right now in factories, offices and services across the country. And, while the Government’s long term vision of a productive, native workforce is compelling, getting there without irreparably damaging British industries requires both short as well as long term solutions.
This is what Nick Allen, alongside Ian Wright, CEO of the Food and Drink Federation and James Russell, Senior Vice President of the British Veterinary Association will be presenting on Tuesday 26 October at 3pm to the EFRA Committee.
Some members have been reporting serious issues where a Temporary Registered Official Veterinarian (TROV) has been placed at a food business site but can’t sign Support Health Attestations (SHA) for the day’s kill, which are vital in order to export. This issue is getting worse, as the number of TROVs being employed by the Food Standards Agency increases. There are around 75 sites in England and Wales that require an Official Veterinarian to sign SHAs in order to export their product.
To make matters worse, the FSA is also saying that as of March 2022 none of their OVs will sign any SHAs. This is completely unacceptable and BMPA is taking it up with the FSA as a matter of urgency. But, what FSA will need to do immediately is to approach the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons to allow TROVs to sign SHAs. If they don’t, we will soon have a situation where businesses could be unable to export.
The announcement this week from Maroš Šefčovič is a step in the right direction as it removes the need for export health certification for multiple lines on the same vehicle, which is a major logistical and cost issue. But it will not remove the need for the certifying vet to have to assemble large amounts of supporting information to sign a single certificate.
Ultimately, if goods being delivered into Northern Ireland from Great Britain are, in effect, in free circulation in the Single Market as there is no regulatory or customs border on the island of Ireland, then it is hard to see how some form of certification can be avoided, and this approach certainly reduces that burden.
Equally, the reduced number of physical checks at border control posts will also ease trade but it’s clear that the EU want much more oversight as is already guaranteed in Article 12 of the Protocol.
The challenge remains that any approach that seeks to completely remove the certification requirement would need to equally guarantee that those goods could not enter the European Union. Thus far, a solution has not been found than can do both of these things.
An online event on Monday 18 October (3:30pm) will see a panel of leading CEOs and scientists discuss the role science plays in defining livestock’s social license and how it can influence the debate around our food systems, government policy and consumer messaging.
This will be an interesting insight into what customers will be demanding of producers and processors into the future, and how the ‘less but better’ narrative could play out. Based on in-depth research and interviews with business leaders, farmers, campaigners and other experts, this report from Footprint considers what better meat looks like for the foodservice sector and how businesses can get there.
The report will be broadcast to the industry and available to download on 27th October at 6am, but you can register for an exclusive live preview on Tuesday 26th October at 11am.
The announcement by Government that they will allow up to 800 pork butchers to apply for a six month visa will provide some welcome relief for pig farmers, and we acknowledge the effort that Defra has put in to win this concession.
We are under no illusion that this is an emergency measure to solve the immediate animal welfare issue that’s playing out in the pig industry. But, the bigger labour issue that is currently constraining production in the rest of the meat industry still remains and is getting steadily worse.
We continue to make the case to Government for short term help in the form of pragmatic controlled access to experienced workers from abroad to plug the gaps in the workforce. This would give us the breathing room to continue our work to attract home-grown workers into the industry and adjust to the new post-Brexit and post-Covid labour market conditions.
In his latest article Peter Hardwick, BMPA’s Trade Policy Advisor, examines the uneven playing field that British companies are playing on now that full import certification and checks on goods coming into the UK from the EU have been postponed until July 2022.
That’s a full 18 months delay, during which time British exporters will have been subject to the full array of checks, paperwork and extra cost that goes with being a ‘third country’. We’ll leave it to readers to decide whether Government chastising businesses about a lack of preparedness for changes after Brexit is a case of the pot calling the kettle black.
Against the backdrop of Cop26, the National Food Strategy and all the recent media attention on meat, Professor Frederic Leroy will deliver a keynote lecture on ‘The rightful place of meat in the national diet’. We’re big fans of Frederic’s work because he’s able to cut through the various biases, commercial interests and unscientific claims that litter social media and the mainstream press, to present a clear, balanced picture of what a healthy human diet should look like.
The City Meat Lecture is a ticketed event to be held in London on 11 November at 6pm and will include a Q & A panel discussion.
The recent Co2 supply issue has provided a good example of how a short-term, targeted and pragmatic intervention by Government can avert a full-blown crisis. Ministers acted quickly to create the conditions for Co2 manufacturers and wholesalers to be able to work out a pricing mechanism that would ensure supplies of the gas kept flowing.
The new pricing structure will now roll-out across new supply contracts to end users, and the system will effectively return to normal functioning but at a higher price point.
In the case of meat prices, the effect of higher Co2 prices won’t have a big impact, as it’s a relatively small proportion of overall input costs. The same cannot be said for rising labour costs which are the result of a shortage of experienced workers here in the UK. We’re still making the case to Government for a similar short-term, pragmatic intervention to help us bring in enough experienced workers from overseas to prevent the UK’s food supply chain from breaking down.
HM Revenue & Customs has published guidance on the rules for moving goods between the UK and EU under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. The guidance aims to help organisations understand how they may be able to pay a reduced rate of Customs Duty (known as a tariff preference).
Former Tesco CEO, Sir David Lewis has been appointed by Boris Johnson as his new Supply Chain Adviser. Number 10’s announcement says he’s tasked with “both identifying the causes of current blockages and pre-empting potential future ones, and advising on resolutions either through direct government action or through industry with Government support”.
It goes on to say that “Dave Lewis will also co-chair the new Supply Chain Advisory Group, consisting of external experts in the field, and the new Industry Taskforce, to ensure those on the ground have the opportunity to voice their concerns and advise on the most efficient resolutions”
Hopefully some further voicing of concerns will get the message through to Number 10 that many of these problems are specific to the UK and are within the gift of Government to solve.
A new study out today paints an interesting picture of the patterns of meat consumption in the UK. It shows that the groups who have traditionally eaten the most meat have moderated their intake, while the youngest cohort who were born since 1999 and belong to Generation Z have actually increased their intake.
The findings fit in with current dietary advice that meat should be part of a healthy balanced diet. But we’d also add an extra layer to this. Here in the UK, we produce highly nutritious meat to some of the highest environmental and welfare standards on the planet. That means British consumers can follow the ‘less but better’ mantra by choosing to buy British.
On the environmental side, a lot of work is underway to develop new methods to reduce methane output from cows and sheep. We find it very encouraging that one of the National Food Strategy recommendations states that “Investing in these technologies offers our best hope of decarbonising livestock farming without massively reducing the number of farms in the sector and the amount of meat we can eat”.
We also support the recommendation in the National Food Strategy that calls for part of existing the £280m Defra fund to go towards developing the technologies further.
Unsworth recently organised a trip to the Calais and Boulogne border control posts for BMPA members to facilitate direct discussions with the French border authority SIVEP. It was an opportunity to ask questions and clarify some of the finer details surrounding how products of animal origin exports are processed going into the EU.
BMPA’s Nan Jones was on the trip and has written up some of the key points discussed including cancel and replace certificates, Green/Orange channels, checking processes at the ports and who needs to be responsible for a consignment once it is in free circulation in the EU.
Unsworth are organising another trip for 15-16 November which will also include a tour of Dover. Any members interested in joining it should contact Nan Jones for more details.
Whether they don’t know (unlikely because we’ve been briefing them for months), or don’t care, ministers have refused to take pragmatic, short term steps to get the country through the current labour crisis in our key industries. In fact they’ve done the opposite over the last few days and actively turned their back on companies that have no way of mitigating the problem immediately.
On Tuesday’s Farming Today programme, Nick Allen didn’t hold back in expressing the dismay and disappointment being felt by British businesses that are being failed by Government. He said to Anna Hill: “Philosophically this Govt has always been more comfortable…with cheaper imports and not worrying about food security and producing at home”.
He went on to say: “The path we seem to be on is that British production will become a niche product the wealthier in the country can afford, and most of the food will be imported cheaper food.”
Listen to Nick’s interview (from 4:40 minutes)
Contrary to recent claims, we are not asking for a return to free movement, nor are we asking Government to fix the labour shortage problem for us. What we’re actually calling for is a short-term pragmatic use of the UK’s new-found, Australia-style immigration controls to plug workforce gaps immediately, while we work on the longer-term solution. Read our latest thoughts on what needs to happen now.
The Global Meat Alliance has just released it’s September Insights Report including a short audio overview of the five big things affecting the global meat industry. They include #WorldIronWeek, what’s expected for COP26 and the global methane pledge for 2030.
In a summary of the sentiment surrounding the recent UN FSS Summit, GMA said: “We didn’t see the level of engagement and media attention around the UNFSS as was perhaps anticipated in the early days. There wasn’t an obvious negative sentiment towards the livestock sector with the majority of mentions around the sector being about working together with producers to create change. There were a number of articles circulating prior to the Summit which addressed concerns due to the structure and process which also haven’t gained much media attention.”
As part of a commitment to modernise the main board of AHDB, ministers have appointed five new members including cereals levy payers Sarah Bell and Stephen Briggs, Beef and Lamb levy payer Colin Bateman and Dairy levy payer Lyndon Edwards.
Dr Catherine Mackenzie, a lawyer with a background in agriculture and digital development, as well as Stephen Briggs’ agroforestry expertise have also joined the board. All will serve for a three year period starting from 13 September 2021.
This week has seen a heightened level of alert in the media as industry warnings of a crisis in the food supply chain begin to be heard. In today’s Daily Mail article, Priti Patel is reported as being concerned that the industry is pushing for a return to free movement. This is wrong. What we are actually calling for is a short term pragmatic use of the UK’s new-found immigration controls to plug workforce gaps immediately, in order to allow industry to adjust to the post-Brexit labour market over the medium term.
Despite clear and specific concerns from meat processors, Government has so far resisted putting in place this short term assistance, however newspaper reports today suggest they may be ready to heed these warnings to avoid a serious collapse in Britain’s food supply chain.
Current labour shortages across multiple sectors and the consequent soaring wage inflation are making British industry much less competitive now we can’t plug gaps in the labour market with workers from neighbouring countries.
Peter Hardwick, BMPA’s Trade Policy Advisor looks at the implications for future trade and considers whether the so-called ‘Brexit dividend’ has been cancelled out just as we begin to have to compete on the world stage.
While Japanese knotweed might be unpopular with gardeners, new research has discovered that it could offer a good natural botanical alternative to sodium nitrite in cured meats.
Early results indicate that it not only ‘significantly’ reduced the production of N-Nitroso Compounds in the body (thought to contribute to the formation of some cancers although not conclusively proven), but it also provides some protective effect when used alongside nitrites in processed meat.
The Competition and Markets Authority has published a new Green Claims Code that seeks, through six principles, to help companies avoid greenwashing. Companies will have until the end of this year to familiarise themselves with the guidance, with a full review of misleading green claims, both online and offline scheduled to start in 2022. “Where there is clear evidence of breaches of consumer law, we may also take action before the formal review begins,” the CMA said.
This week saw the launch of Red Tractor Assurance’s new mobile-friendly website. It will provide enhanced functionality and content and is home to the new revised 2021 farming standards which take effect from 1 November.
The new manuals, guidance, checklists and other helpful tools have been available from August to allow as much time as possible for members to get ready and understand the changes.
A new survey conducted by YouGov presents some strong proof that consumers overwhelmingly trust the quality, standards and provenance of British food. Underpinning that consumer confidence is our highly regulated production system.
The statistics reported serve to remind us that British food production is a precious thing, which should be supported to continue supplying UK customers and promoted to overseas consumers who are keen to buy-into our standards.
Currently, Government action seems to be going in the opposite direction with new trade deals potentially undermining domestic production and a reluctance to fix the chronic labour shortages that are currently stifling the industry.
As it stands today, the Co2 situation is still in a state of flux. We think that Government intervention has put off the impending shut-down of pork producers and hopefully avoided the need to cull perfectly healthy pigs on farm. But we’re not yet out of the woods.
Over the last week, BMPA has been updating TV and the press daily on the unfolding situation. You can listen to Nick Allen’s discussion with Sarah Montague on The World at One from 10:28 minutes. You can also listen to David Lindars’ interview with John Pienaar on Times Radio Drive from 14:01 minutes.
After a tense few days of impending Co2 shortages, the Government has delivered a short but vital reprieve for the industry. Here are our thoughts on where this leaves the food supply chain and what needs to happen next.
DEFRA gave its support (in principle) to a Parliamentary Question from Rachael Maskell MP on the “merits of introducing a carbon rating system on food labelling to indicate to consumers the carbon footprint of their food purchases”. The response stated that measuring the carbon footprint from food is “complex” and that “no single metric can yet capture the full picture”.
We’ll be watching this carefully. If such a scheme is badly implemented using flawed metrics, it could have needless negative consequences for the industry and be instrumental in steering consumers away from healthy, natural nutritional choices towards novel foods that haven’t yet been proved to be as beneficial to human health.
The House of Lords has voted in favour of an amendment to the Environment Bill that would mean changes could be applied to any single-use materials, and not just plastic.
We read an incredible statistic from PWC who estimate that substituting all current consumption of plastic packaging with alternative materials could almost triple associated carbon emissions. Baroness Bennett likens this kind of substitution to moving from petrol to diesel cars.