5 July 2002

Excellence Week says UKmeat on way back

BRITISH meat is poised for a comeback, ready to shake off the recent problems with BSE and foot-and-mouth, and win back market share at home and abroad.

That was the upbeat message at this weeks Royal Show from firms and organisations participating in British Excellence Week.

"Weve lost an awful lot of trade to our overseas competitors in the past five years," said BEW chairman, Robin Pooley. "The whole sector has been suffering. But we have a great industry with a sophisticated supply chain and it is time we told the world about it."

As part of British Excellence Week, 17 groups – including producer organisations, abattoirs and supermarkets – formed a "meat supply trail" at the Royal Show to explain to visitors the systems in place to guarantee the safety and quality of British meat.

One example was abattoir group ABP, which demonstrated its new internet service for its 8000 producer group members.

"We estimate that 30% of our farmers are connected to the internet and this service enables them to access all the information on their past sales, including price, carcass classification and what premiums have been paid," said abattoir manager Steven Feehan. "Our aim is to show that our systems are second to none when it comes to traceability."

Support for British Excellence Week also came from Tesco, which ran a special 20% off price promotion on British meat in all its stores, as well as taking part in the meat supply trail.

It also took a delegation of overseas visitors on a beef chain visit, including the state-of-the-art St Merryn Meat plant at Merthyr Tydfil, south Wales, and its Animal Initiative Farm near Oxford.

"We wanted to show our European customers that they can rely on our supply chain," said red meat category manager Matt Simister.

The timing of British Excellence Week was particularly fortuitous, with better signs emerging in the export markets, added St Merryn Meats John Dracup.

Changes were expected soon to allow day dedication of meat plants under the date-based export scheme, and there were signs that France could lift the ban on British beef in the autumn. Given these changes, St Merryn was poised to return to the beef export business soon. &#42

It is time to tell the world about the great British meat industry, says British Excellence Week chairman, Robin Pooley.