31 July 2000
Beef curtain descends across Europe
by FWi staff
LESS than 10 tonnes of prime British beef has been exported each week since the world-wide ban on overseas sales was lifted exactly one year ago.
Only about 500 tonnes of prime British beef worth around 5m was exported in the 12 months to 1 August 2000, said the Meat and Livestock Commission.
It a fraction of the amount exported before the British beef ban was imposed at the height of the BSE crisis in March 1996 in a trade once worth 500m a year.
Chris Lamb, the MLCs consumer marketing manager, said the organisations export team had worked hard to find new opportunities and customers abroad.
Everyone knew it would take an enormous amount of work to get beef exports moving again, he said. It has not been easy.
The vast majority of high quality meat was bought by independent retailers and restaurateurs mainly in Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Since 1 August last year, small amounts of British beef have also been sold to Spain, Greece, Germany, Malta and Austria, according to the MLC statistics.
The figures also show that the British are tucking into more home-grown beef, with sales up 3% compared to the first half of last year.
But the good news is tempered by the ongoing ban on British beef in France which has led to court action by the National Farmers Union and Brussels.
Dr Ian Frood, vice-chairman of the NFU livestock committee, said the British public had done us proud since the European ban was lifted.
We owe them a vote of thanks, he said. Now we hope they will help us fight this illegal [French] ban by writing a letter of protest to their local MEP.