25 April 2000
Should buyers care where they get their beef?
SHAWN BAKER of Midland Meat Packers (MMP) told farmers recently his company didnt give a damn where it bought its beef (Stores fury at meat supplier, FWi, 14 April, 2000).
Here are reactions from FWi readers:
Click here or scroll to the foot of the page for other topics
ITS good to see so many responses to the comments by Shawn Baker of MMP.
Now do something about it. British Beef plc – now that has a nice ring to it; owned by farmers, run by farmers, assured by farmers. Do it!
Dave Herdson, Taupo, New Zealand
IF meat processors dont give a damn, what is the point of farm assurance and all the traceability we have had to put in place?
These people obviously dont care about the British Farming Industry. I am disgusted.
YES, British processors definitely should care where they source their beef.
It is becoming more and more important to people in general that good animal welfare and safe hygiene go hand-in-hand. If we start to open our doors to Walmart and their sources of beef, God help us and the future of animal welfare in global farming.
This subject has to be seriously addressed, not only here in Britain, but also by the World Trade Organisation. It is quite obvious that people are worried about these issues, otherwise there would not be the protests by environmental groups.
Julia Long, London SE24
IF MMP wish to source beef from abroad that is their right in a free market, but they should not then be allowed to pass it on as British.
Producers should consider refusing to supply MMP until they can guarantee that the product is resold untainted with foreign produce.
Such action would clarify to all the supermarkets and indeed any retail organisation that meat
sourced from MMP was foreign.
William Lidgate, Iver, Buckinghamshire
IS this a reprise of Gerald Ratners decanter – self-inflicted foot wounds?
The mans speaking the truth – they really dont care, just at the moment its best to buy British.
Processors and supermarkets are fickle and their profits come first.
Surely we had to learn that one the hard way!!
Richard Mortimore, Pease Pottage, West Sussex
SHAWN BAKERS remark shows again the reason why the meat industry is in the mess it has been in for a few years now.
He tells Asda that he is supplying them with British, then tells everybody else he doesnt give a damn where it comes from – one good reason why most farmers are reluctant to trust some people in the meat industry (in plain English, someE of them are completly untrustworthy).
Midland Meat Packers now need to kick Baker into touch,to give both consumers and farmers a clear sign that they are a reputable and trustworthy firm who supply what the label says it is, as Bakers comment quite clearly indicates that they are not doing that at present.
Andrew Hawkins, Simonsbath, Somerset
OF course it matters where the beef comes from. How else do we know what conditions cattle have been reared under, or what they have been fed or injected with?
Vote with your purses. The Co-op has clearly labelled Scotch Beef (farm-assured) at reasonable prices. Buy that.
Dr Kay Williams, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
YES, of course buyers should care where their meat comes from – British standards of meat production are much higher
than anywhere elses.
I AM absolutely disgusted by Mr Bakers comments.
I have been totally committed as a director of Marches Quality Meat for over four years trying to establish a
local label for quality product, fully traceable back to the farm of origin, and I find Mr Bakers comments most distasteful and unhelpful to an industry that is struggling though a very difficult period.
Our industry doesnt need people with such a negative attitude.
John Hardwick, Fownhope, Hereford
IF the retailers/supermarket chains constantly put shareholder dividend before sustainable quality home-produced supply, without providing an equitable revenue to producers, the long-term scenario is one of a none-existent home market!
JC Mark Dodds
YES, buyers should care where their meat comes from. But at the same time, they have to stay in buisness, I think market forces dictate where they source their products.
Robert Curtis, Yarcombe, Devon
I THINK it is absolutely astonishing, to say the least, for a meat buyer to voice that sort of opinion virtually in public, especially bearing in mind who his audience were.
I think Asda would do well to reconsider the placing of its meat business and to be seen not just to pay lip-service to good business ethics.
Their customers will probably care where their meat comes from, and rightly demand good value for money combined with being able to purchase fresh meat from animals reared and slaughteredin this country.
If the multiples cannot supply this, then consumers must vote with their feet and bring their business back to the local butchers who have been purchasing their meat on a more local, or at least national, basis.
BRITISH farmers have been told to produce to higher standards at higher cost.
Consumers want British meat because they associate it with quality.
Now we hear that meat packers will buy from anywhere provided it is cheap.
It makes a mockery of farm assurance, traceability, animal welfare issues, etc.
All they have to do is stick our 2 million kitemark on it and everyone makes a fortune except the farmer.
Farmers wouldnt mind so much if there was a level playing-field and our produce
was selling in other countries. Everything is against the British farmer at present.
Farming and manufacturing are suffering from boom and bust – boom under the Tories and bust under Labour.
David Goddard, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire
I WAS so disappointed to read about Shawn Bakers remarks.
They were a slap in the face to an industry that has been through so much in the last four years ,totally insensitive on his part. It has been heartening that Asda ,a company that has supported us through this difficulty by stocking only British beef, should take him so severely to task.
If his remarks were designed to shock, then I fear he
will be the one that takes the biggest shock.
BUYERS should care where their meat comes from. If it is a case of buy cheapest, UK farming is finished and so
is food safety.
Fred Henley, Seaton Ross, York