27 March 2000
‘Dirty tricks’ hit beef export drive

By FWi staff

DIRTY tricks by European officials and international traders are hampering attempts to restore the 600 million market in British beef exports, it is claimed.

French delegations have targeted Belgium and Dutch buyers in an attempt to dissuade them from placing orders for British beef, says The Times.

The Irish have also attempted to negatively influence Continental meat buyers interested in British meat. The Spanish, too, have tried to create difficulties.

Information about the alleged scam is contained in a briefing note from the Meat and Livestock Commission for the Ministry of Agriculture.

The document is said to reveal that a French embassy official tried to undermine attempts by a Dutch meat company to buy British beef.

One Irish exporter offered to undercut the price of a deal involving British beef. Concern is mounting that Spain is also trying to hinder British beef sales.

The Spanish health department, which instigated a police visit to the British stand at the Barcelona fair earlier this month, is trying to hamper the trade.

France denied any dirty tricks, but The Times reports that privately they were bemused, saying there was little appetite for British beef abroad.

Meanwhile, French chefs are undertaking a fact-finding tour to Britain later this week as guests of the MLC and the Prince of Wales.

Earlier, it was announced that the first German orders for British fillet steak had been placed since the EU put a ban in place four years.

The first shipments of British beef are expected to be sent to Germany early next month after German politicians lifted their ban on the product.