26 November 1999

Four years on & British beef is back in Italy

BRITISH beef is back on Italian dinner plates, following the arrival in Milan this week of the first export consignments in almost four years.

Italian beef importer Giacinto Fusetti announced the news during an Agenda 2000 seminar at the Scottish National Winter Fair in Perth.

Industry leaders and farmers were delighted that a start had been made in regaining what had been a lucrative market for beef producers.

But two major hurdles remain; the beef-on-the-bone ban and the strength of sterling.

Dr Fusetti said that, before the 1996 ban 90% of British exports to Italy was bone-in, heifer beef. Under the date-based export scheme (DBES), beef leaving the UK was to be boneless, vacuum packed and boxed.

"We look forward to the bone-in ban being lifted because we want your beef again", Dr Fusetti told the audience but he also accepted that the strong pound would have a severe impact on trade.

The beef was dispatched by St Merryn Meat, in Cornwall and by Scotbeef, north of the border.

The beef arriving in Milan this week had been hauled across France and the journey was completed without incident or delay.