Beef processors ‘continue as normal – for now’

Two of the UK’s largest beef processing companies have said they will be able to continue to operate for at least the next week following the ban on movement of cattle due to the outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease.

Anglo Beef Processors, which usually processes about 6000 cattle each week, said while there was no movement in any of its five plants in England and Scotland, the processor’s packing operations were “continuing as normal”.

A spokesman for ABP, said the processor still had “beef in the pipeline” which was currently maturing.

‘Supplied as normal’

Major customers, including Sainsburys and Asda, would still be supplied as normal, at least for the next week, he said.

“In addition, we have two big plants in Northern Ireland which are not affected by the mainland ban, so products are still coming into packing operations in the UK.”

“It’s all going on as normal at the moment,” he said. “But it’s difficult to anticipate what the situation will be next week.”

‘Special arrangements’

The processor employs 2000 people in mainland Britain who process and pack 300,000 cattle each year.

The spokesman said “special arrangements” were being made for the 60 staff who work in the abattoirs to work elsewhere in the company.

“But it remains to see what will happen,” he added.

‘Concerned’

“We are going to lose money. The plant isn’t operating normally so we are concerned for our situation.

“There are going to be losers in the processing sector as well as farming.”

Richard Phelps, managing director of Southern Counties Fresh Foods, which processes about 2300 cattle each week, said the firm’s Langport and Yetminster plants had three week’s worth of production in store.

Concern for exports

“But the boning hall will run out tomorrow lunch time, following the back end of last week’s kill.”

Although there were short-term concerns for supplying the home trade, greater concern lie for the export trade, Mr Phelps said.

“As one of the largest meat packers, SCFF were one of the first processors to generate good export contracts to Italy, Sweden, Poland, the Netherlands and Southern Ireland.

“It’s vital we get trading as soon as possible.”  

Keep up to date with the latest developments with our FWi special Foot and Mouth report