Export scheme warning

12 November 1999

Export scheme warning

VALUABLE exports markets for British beef could be lost if politicians continue to concentrate on ending French resistance to the product, say meat traders.

They want more effort to be put into making the date-based export scheme workable, to attract other, more lucrative buyers.

"I suspect you couldnt give beef away in France. Meanwhile, we are close to agreement with other countries to get beef exported, but the DBES remains hugely restrictive," says Peter Scott, general secretary of the British Meat Federation.

Countries such as South Africa, and some sub-Mediterranean countries, are poised to take domestic supplies within a matter of weeks. "We are talking to former buyers of cow and carcass beef, which can no longer be exported under DBES rules. But there is potential for forequarter beef," says Mr Scott.

However, for meat plants to resume trade, elements of the export scheme must be addressed. The BMF wants the government to ensure the hit rate of cattle identified as being fit for export to be improved from the present 50% success rate to 80%. It also wants plants to be able to operate export-only lines on a daily basis rather than the hugely restrictive – and costly – full-time dedication.

"Given these restrictions the costs do not stack up. Plants will not be encouraged to develop exports with such huge financial restrictions having had to rebuild domestic trade (following BSE)," he warns.

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