Too many bodies lifting meat costs
THE wide range of assurance schemes inflate production and retail costs of red meat, warns Brian Simpson, chief executive of Scotch Quality Beef and Lamb Association.
He told the annual conference of Scottish Meat Wholesalers in Aviemore that SQBLA has a reliable scheme to deliver farm and quality assurance throughout the meat chain.
"I would urge supermarkets to accept our scheme as the standard in Scotland and not to make additions. All these inspectors going up farm roads adds to the cost of beef and lamb," said Mr Simpson.
"The different schemes are based on the SQBLA standard. Our inspectors could audit the farm for any extras demanded by various supermarkets and we are in discussion with Tesco and others on that subject. Our scheme is tried and tested and, more importantly, approved by the EU, so there is little need for additions."
He refuted suggestions that a loophole in the Scottish scheme allowed English store cattle and sheep to be marketed as SQBLA farm assured. "There are finishing periods of 90 days for cattle and 60 days for lamb coming from England. But we need to accelerate farm assurance for store stock in England and Scotland so that we can offer farm assurance from birth to slaughter for a higher proportion of stock," said Mr Simpson.
He saw no role in Scotland for the new body, Assured British Meat, which has appointed David Peace, formerly of ADAS, as chief executive. "Unless it can offer independent accreditation of our assurance scheme cheaper than the service provided by Scottish Food Quality Certification, I see no role for ABM in Scotland," he said.
SQBLA chairman, John Ross, who is also an MLC commissioner, was more diplomatic. "I see a role for ABM in providing independent assurance for consumers." *