BMPA updates, as they happen, on developing issues in the meat industry.
Contains links to member only content.
Defra developed the Groupage Export Facilitation Scheme (GEFS) to help exporters of certain products of animal origin with stable supply chains, which are packaged for sale to the final consumer. It allows exporters of these products to consolidate them more easily at a single point of dispatch and group products onto a smaller number of Export Health Certificates.
It has been decided to extend this scheme until 31 December 2023, and will now include goods destined for food service environments as well as retail. A proactive desk-based audit process will also be introduced which Defra will contact members about. GEFS guidance will be updated to specify that physical supplier inspections must be performed every three months with the option for virtual visits in between. The new changes will be implemented from 1 January 2022 and details will be published shortly in updated GEFS guidance.
Since the beginning of this year companies have been able to delay import declarations for a maximum of 175 days from when goods arrive in the country. But, from 1 January 2022, full declarations must be made at the time of importing and cannot be delayed.
The Government has published a suite of guidance on how to bring goods into the UK from any country, including how much tax and duty you’ll need to pay and whether you need to get a licence or certificate. They’ve also published information on Rules of Origin explaining how to qualify for preferential tariffs on exports and imports.
“Those hoping that 2022 will bring calm after multiple market disruptions will likely be disappointed”. That’s the warning from Rabobank’s latest Global Animal Protein Outlook for 2022. The report highlights the expected price and volume changes in each regional market (especially interesting for the recovery in the pork market). It also encourages progressive companies to treat ongoing disruptions in the global meat market as opportunities for growth rather than business risks.
The Global Meat Alliance are holding a networking call at 7:30pm on 2 December with expert guests from around the world updating on issues like dietary and health misinformation, Cop26 take outs, biosecurity risks in the red meat industry and the ProteinPact.
During Wednesday’s hearing of the International Trade Committee, chairman Angus MacNeil told Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan that he believed Wellington was “30 times happier” about the terms of the bilateral trade deal than the UK.
Ms Trevelyan was also challenged on claims that Government is delaying signing the Australia trade deal because it’s trying to backtrack on some of the less favourable terms around meat quotas and tariffs. Her answer: “I’m very comfortable that it is a good deal”, adding that there “isn’t a downside”. We have some issues with that claim but would encourage you to listen to the arguments put forward by the Trade Secretary to the Committee.
Following recommendations set out in the Government response to a previous request for views on the future of AHDB, a new consultation has been launched, which runs until 10 January 2022, to get stakeholder views on those recommendations.
The original review showed support for structuring AHDB around two central priorities: market development and improving farm performance. This should allow an increased focus on business resilience, skills, environment, reputation and market development at home and overseas.
DEFRA has announced that the statistics for the UK Food Security Report 2021 will be released on 16 December 2021. The report, published once every three years, sets out an analysis of statistical data and examines past, current, and predicted trends to present the best available understanding of food security.
Separately, the Global Food Security group is undertaking research to help policymakers and practitioners optimise the resilience of the UK’s food system to environmental, biological, economic, social and geopolitical shocks. Their programmes (including Transforming UK Food Systems) make interesting reading, particularly after the shocks to the system we’ve had over the last two years.
The latest EFRA hearing on labour shortages in the meat industry got pretty heated at times, with MPs giving Secretary of State George Eustice a thorough grilling on Government’s response to repeated industry warnings of the mounting labour crisis.
We’ve been trying to single-out the most pertinent bit of the proceedings to recommend to you, but we couldn’t choose in the end. Meat industry players will find it all pretty eye-opening, so we’d encourage you to watch from the start.
One thing we did hear Chairman Neil Parish say is that the Committee intends to question a representative from the Home Office in a future hearing. Given the widely held opinion that the ‘brick wall’ we’ve been coming up against resides in that department, we’ll be putting the date of that hearing in our diary as soon as it’s announced.
The Food Standards Agency has written to businesses outlining concerns about its ability to deliver full-service inspection work in some abattoirs, most notably during the pre-Christmas period when there is extra demand on resources.
This shortage of vets yet again highlights the concerns that have been expressed on many occasions and ignored by Government about the pressures their new immigration policy is having on the food industry. While BMPA will be working closely with FSA to try and avoid any disruption, the fact remains that many of these problems could have been avoided by listening to industry and taking action earlier.
“Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise: meat is a healthy food offering key nutrients, and within wholesome diets there is no evidence of harm”. That’s the assertion, backed up by exhaustive evidence, that Professor Frédéric Leroy presented at the inaugural City Meat Lecture in London last week.
Professor Leroy has, for a long time, been gathering a huge body of evidence that exposes the scientific flaws in many of the environmental and nutritional arguments put forward by those who advocate reducing meat consumption in favour of plant-based or lab-grown alternatives.
His work not only makes a compelling case for the place of meat in a healthy, nutritionally balanced diet but also exposes the hidden agendas and corporate motivations sitting behind many of the high profile plant-based advocates. Frédéric paints a complex landscape of claims and counter claims to highlight what information we can trust and what should be treated with a heavy dose of scepticism. His presentation is well worth your attention.
The Government has just shared the details and timetable for changes to EU-to-GB Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) import controls. Certification, documentary, ID and physical checks will be introduced in three phases from 1 July next year.
From 1 July ’22 these checks will apply to all animal by-products, meat and meat products and plants and plant products. From 1 September checks will be introduced for all dairy products and from 1 November they will apply to all remaining products of animal origin including composites. More details including training videos and upcoming webinars can be found on the BMPA Portal.
The BMPA application for Wiltshire Cured Ham, Bacon and Gammon to be granted Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG) Product status has finally been published on Gov.uk. This now starts a notice period from 15 November ’21 to 15 February ’22 when people with a legitimate interest can object to the application. We’re into the final stage of this process and are hopeful that, just like Gower Salt Marsh Lamb and Cambrian Mountains Lamb earlier this year, our Wiltshire Cure products will be approved to go onto the UK Geographical Indications Register.
To receive this Geographical Indication a TSG application must show the product name has been in use for 30 years or more and is produced using traditional methods or a traditional recipe. A TSG product does not need to be produced in a specific geographical area but TSG status does protect the product name from misuse or imitation.
The ‘reliability’ of data and assumptions that links meat consumption to increased deaths, and which underpins major policy documents included in Henry Dimbleby’s National Food Strategy have been called into question by a group of international scientists.
The group, headed up by Professor Alice Stanton of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, has written to the Lancet (responsible for publishing the flawed study) warning that it is “highly inappropriate and imprudent for these estimates to be utilised in any national or international policy documents, nor in any regulatory or legislative decisions”. The scientist are also urging The Lancet to perform a proper peer review of the data and publish the evidence behind it. To date these requests have been declined repeatedly.
Refusing to apply sufficient rigor to scientific research which is being used to drive Government policy is a dangerous path to take and could result in serious unintended consequences for public health.
The Government’s Private Aid Storage Scheme to help processors freeze and store an estimated 15,000 tonnes of pig meat is due to start this week. But questions are being asked about where all this meat is going to go, with cold chain companies still not having been approached about storage, and capacity at a seasonal low just before Christmas.
Nick Allen explained to Farming Today how the scheme will work, when the emergency overseas butchers are expected to start arriving and where spare storage capacity will be found.
In a sign of things to come, the UK Government has committed £1m in funding for cultivated meat start-up Roslin Technologies via the Transforming Food Production Programme. Katrina Hayter, Challenge Director of the UKRI funding body said: “We believe developing cultivated meat is one of the most significant advances that we can make, as a country and as a planet, to tackle the scourge of food shortages and climate change.”
There will still be significant barriers to bringing these products to the UK and EU markets. Before they can be authorised, the debate over how they should be labelled will need to take place. For example, should they be termed ‘meat’, ‘vegetarian’ or ‘vegan’? The environmental impact of cultivated meat versus traditionally reared animals will also need to be scrutinised and a suitable metric (like GWP*) used to determine their relative carbon footprints.
We wrote last month about an Australian company pioneering seaweed farming to use as an additive in livestock feed to reduce methane emissions. The active ingredients in seaweed are anti microbial and they change the way fermentation happens to produce more energy, which eventuates in less methane production.
On Farming Today this morning, we heard about a group of UK scientists who are currently trialling other species of seaweed that are suited to growing in our waters. While they’re not seeing the 80% reduction in methane of the Aussie product, initial results look promising.
The programme explains the many benefits of seaweed from use in the human and animal food chain and capturing 6 x more carbon than trees to replacing plastics. It needs no land or fertilisers to grow; it also cleans the water and provides a habit for fish. However, the caveat to commercialisation is that we don’t want to deplete our oceans’ biodiversity, so production at scale for a global market will need to be planned very carefully.
Listen (from 6:57 minutes)
George Eustice and Defra’s David Kennedy will be answering questions from the EFRA Committee on Tuesday 16 November at 2:30pm. Their evidence session follows recent contributions from industry figures including Nick Allen.
Based on previous EFRA Committee inquiries, we can expect MPs to take a robust line of questioning to get a handle on government’s view on using foreign labour and immigration policy. The Committee may also ask the Secretary of State what government can do to attract more British workers to the sector, which has been consistently difficult to do up to now.
With an estimated shortfall of 3000 Official Veterinarians and a sharp drop off in the number of EU vets choosing to come to the UK to work (down from 757 in 2019 to 250 so far in 2021), Amivet Exports made a presentation to BMPA members outlining the issues and solutions. You can view the Powerpoint slides in the Members’ Portal.
Additionally, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons will be holding a Workforce Summit on 30 November. The event will bring together Government, employers, colleges and regulators to discuss the ongoing concerns over staffing shortages and lack of additional capacity to meet demand for veterinary services.
With less than 6 months to go until the Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT) comes into force on 1 April 2022, HMRC has provided updates to help you continue preparing for the tax’s introduction. We have posted all the latest information, links to webinar recordings and forthcoming webinars plus recent technical announcements relating to the tax on the portal.
This update provides new information, for example what to include on a tax return for PPT, and what other substances need to be considered for multi material packaging. The update also brings previously published guidance into the full guidance format, so all the information that businesses need to prepare for the tax will be together in one place.
Following the successful trips to Calais and Dover, Unsworth are hosting a Dublin Port Tour and Q&A Event on Monday 29 November. It will cover the Import/Export process via Holyhead, common errors that cause delays and future changes to the border model.
Hot off the press today is a new report from the National Audit Office on the state of the UK/EU border, post the Brexit Transition Period; and its conclusions raise a big red flag. It explains that the current capability at UK border control posts was achieved in part using temporary measures such as delaying imposing import controls, putting in place easements and providing direct financial support to businesses to help them continue to trade.
The report goes on to say that “the current overall operating model for the EU–GB border is not sustainable, and much more work is needed to put in place a stable operating model that eliminates any risk of WTO challenge from trading partners, does not require any temporary supports, and has clarity and ease of use for border users.”
They paint a similar picture in Northern Ireland saying that the Government’s solution to difficulties implementing the Protocol has been to simply unilaterally continue operating as if still in the ‘Grace Period’, which ended last month on 1 October. The report says it is critical that UK government now “deliver quickly on any agreement reached between the UK and the EU and put in place the systems, infrastructure and resources required to make it work.”
More transparency, more accountability, more involvement and more say over how levies are spent. That’s the promise from Tim Rycroft, AHDB’s new CEO. In a press release, Mr Rycroft has this message for levy payers: “To our critics who said we must change, I say, “We are changing.” See for yourself. Judge us by our actions. We have heard what levy payers have said. Now I’m asking levy payers to hear what we say.”
Saturday 6 November is Nature and Land Use Day at COP26. The Food and Drink Federation, British Retail Consortium and National Farmers’ Union will host a Q&A panel discussion on the role of food systems in addressing the twin threats of climate change and biodiversity loss. This event will hear from the UK and international industry leaders working across different aspects of the global food supply chain about different ways to achieve sustainability. Watch it live at 3:45pm or view the recording.
US based Anne-Marie Roerink, author of the annual Power of Meat Study, delivered her broad perspective at the Global Meat Alliance Consumer Trends talk yesterday. She works closely with retailers, wholesalers, packer/processors, producers and trade associations and understands the challenges and opportunities in the food and meat business today as well as the drivers of success tomorrow.
ABP, one of Britain’s largest meat processors, has been working steadily for years on developing a range of methods to reduce the carbon footprint of beef cattle on their Shropshire farm. They range from selective breeding through to innovations in methane-reducing feed, manure management and even a wearable methane-neutralising mask.
Professor Michael Lee of research partner Harper Adams University said: “We need to realise the huge potential livestock systems have in the production of ‘brown gold’ [manure and its role in improving soil health],” and that “Organic returns driven through livestock hold the key to unlocking soil health.”
This morning, Nick Allen updated Farming Today on another unintended consequence of the UK Government’s post-Brexit immigration policy. The labour shortage, which is now affecting most sectors including ours, is now forcing British meat companies to pay EU processors to do the cutting and packing work that should be happening here in the UK.
That’s valuable productive capacity and tax revenue leaking out of Britain and benefitting the EU. It’s also adding around £1500 per lorry load due to higher post-Brexit freight and customs costs, which will inevitably end up translating into higher food prices for British consumers.
This absurd situation serves to highlight the root cause of the problem. There are labour shortages throughout Europe. However, while Ireland and the Netherlands, where much of this meat is going, have access to a huge pool of EU labour and the ability to recruit from further afield, UK immigration policy is starving our country of workers.
And, with the industry struggling to cope with a 15000 worker shortfall, the 800 emergency visas (for pork butchers only) won’t solve this. We have a solution. We just need Government to back it and back the British companies it will help.
Listen to Nick’s interview (at 10:19 mins)
The latest Global Insights Report is now available. It covers what’s been happening in the run-up to Cop26, reactions from the UN FSS summit, plus debate and commentary on meat, diet, livestock and the environment from around the world.
A new app to help people make positive changes to their diet and physical activity will launch in January 2022.
The pilot will see users wear wrist-worn devices that can generate personalised health recommendations, such as increasing their step count, eating more fruit and vegetables and decreasing portion size. Users will collect points for these healthy behaviours which will unlock rewards including gym passes, clothes or food vouchers and discounts for shops, cinema or theme park tickets.
We’re keen to see what metrics the app will be using to generate its recommendations, especially when it comes to dietary advice and what constitutes a healthy, nutritionally balanced diet.
New requirements for importing products of animal origin and animal by products come into force from 1 January 2022. To help companies prepare for the changes Defra will be hosting weekly Tuesday webinars at 10am from 2 November until 7 December. They’ll cover what you need to do to continue importing from the EU, a demonstration of how to complete a pre-notification (IPAFFS) plus new information on specific policies and commodities.
The first webinar is at 10am on Tuesday 2 November.
In preparation for the new tax HMRC are holding an “Introduction to Plastic Packaging” webinar at 1:45pm on 22 November ’21, which covers how the tax will operate, what it applies to, who is responsible for paying and accounting for it and how the reporting and record keeping should work.
We’ve also posted on the members portal the most recent update on who is liable to account for the tax by clarifying when the packaging component is finished, i.e. when the ‘last substantial modification’ has taken place.
Nick Allen gave a forthright testimony to the EFRA Committee, describing deteriorating capacity and morale in Britain’s meat processing industry as a result of the chronic labour shortage.
The evidence presented by all participants gave a graphic representation of the breadth and severity of the crisis which has weakened the food supply chain’s resilience. The point was made that Government clearly doesn’t understand the current make up of the UK labour market, which has undergone a huge structural change since Brexit and Covid began taking effect.
Nick and the other speakers delivered a clear description of what needs to happen next. The Government needs to face reality and allow more workers in to the country to take up these jobs immediately. The kind of experienced workers we need simply don’t exist in the UK right now and it will take the next two years to recruit and train British people.
Government needs to review the level of English required of migrant workers. Currently, it’s around A Level standard which is an unnecessary barrier for those seeking a job that requires more manual skill. This would be true of British workers as well. There’s also no mention of food processing in the new T Courses announced this week, and food barely appears in the National Curriculum. This is a two year re-balancing exercise, not a quick fix before Christmas and, come New Year’s Day, this labour crisis will still be strangling the British food industry.
This short Financial Times video will give hope to the millions of people who are thinking of reducing the amount of meat they eat in order to reduce their environmental footprint, but don’t want to let go of the incredible nutritional benefits it offers.
We already know that British beef and lamb has a much lower footprint than most because it’s made from the naturally occurring abundance of grass and rain we have in the UK. But a firm of Australian seaweed farmers has developed a feed supplement that is set to revolutionise cattle production elsewhere in the world where environmental footprints are much higher. We don’t use the phrase ‘game changer’ lightly but, with the potential to reduce methane emissions by 90%, we can’t think of any other way to describe it.
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.