15 September 2000
British forces get more British meat

By Robert Davies

BRITISH forces are to get much more home-produced meat after a discussions hosted by the Meat and Livestock Commission.

Representatives of the commission and farm unions admitted the talks were far more productive than they had anticipated after disappointing earlier meetings.

The most significant progress came on increasing the 2% contribution home-killed lamb makes to the 710t bought by the MoD each year.

Industry negotiators put forward plans to make the price of British lamb more competitive, and presented arrangements for blast-freezing supplies as required.

About 150t of lamb will be supplied.

Parts of lamb carcasses normally sold at heavily discounted prices by wholesalers when supermarkets run promotions will be frozen for the forces.

The MoD also hopes to increase the amount of British beef served from 800t of mainly minced beef products to 950t a year.

Much of the extra will be topside, silverside and thick flank beef.

Don Curry, chairman of MLC, said the progress made was the culmination of many months of hard work, which he hoped would set the tone for the future.

“It follows intense work in conjunction with other industry bodies working with the MoD and their supplier on specifications and recipe development.”

Industry representatives were also cheered by response to their pressure to bring procurement specifications in line with the British Farm Standard.

“If we could get this we would be able to compete on more even and fairer terms,” said Mark Lazzeri, head of policy for the Farmers Union of Wales.

“That is something for future talks, and the increased flexibility shown by the MoD side and the progress made gives us real grounds for optimism.”

Bill Goldsworthy, former director of the National Farmers Union Cymru-Wales, said the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had taken a positive step forward.

“It is fair to say that the disparity between prices of British and imported meat quoted to us last time suggested we faced a big uphill task,” he added.

“But a change in the approach of Nigel Jervis, head of MoD procurement, and the main supplier allowed us to take a positive step in the right direction.”