29 October 1999

Beef "straitjacket"

NORTHERN Irelands beef industry is stuck in an "unwarranted straitjacket" with no indication of when it will be removed, says would-be beef exporter Linden Foods.

The date-based export scheme only represented a partial easing of the beef export ban under very stringent conditions, said chairman Derek Shaw, speaking on the day the group announced a multi-million £ development plan.

"Customers such as (Dutch supermarket chain) Albert Heijn, Marks & Spencer and Safeway continue to be flabbergasted at the situation," he added.

The group is, with government help, investing £5.7m to help target UK and European markets with retail-ready products.

A new cold storage area capable of holding 2500t of meat is planned, as is a modern packing facility, producing shelf-ready controlled atmospheric packs. The move would create 70 new jobs over the next three years, said director Richard Moore.