Beef exports fail to recover from ban

Click to follow
The Independent Online

British beef exports are still only a trickle, a year to the day after the European Union's ban was lifted, the Meat and Livestock Commission (MLC) revealed yesterday.

British beef exports are still only a trickle, a year to the day after the European Union's ban was lifted, the Meat and Livestock Commission (MLC) revealed yesterday.

In the year since Brussels lifted its import prohibition, 500 tons of British beef, worth £5m, have been exported to the Continent. This contrasts sharply with the 274,000 tons worth £520m exported the year before the ban in March 1996.

One of the main reasons, says the MLC, is the stringent regulation of the date-based export scheme insisted upon as the readmission price for British beef to European Union markets. This demands a life history for every animal sent abroad; it also prescribes that abattoirs wanting to export dedicate themselves entirely to exports. So far, only two plants, at Truro in Cornwall and East Kilbride in Scotland, have found this economically worthwhile.

Other hindrances include the high level of the pound against the euro, which makes exports dearer, and the continuing French ban on British beef which, although being challenged, sends an unhelpful signal to other markets.

British beef exports have had to be rebuilt from scratch. An MLC spokesman said. "It's one thing convincing supermarket buyers and even agriculture ministers in various countries, but we also have to convince the consumers."

The MLC would like the date-based export scheme relaxed so slaughterhouses could devote some days to exports and some to home markets. "The conditions are too onerous," the spokesman said.

Comments