AHDB challenged over British lamb promotion


NFU livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe has challenged AHDB to come before the union and explain what it has achieved for levy payers over the last two years.

The gauntlet was thrown down after delegates at the NFU council meeting accused the body of not doing enough to promote British lamb.

Mr Sercombe said he had received a lot of feedback from farmers concerned about the amount of shelf space given to imported product, despite the latest figures showing a drop in the amount of New Zealand lamb arriving in the UK.

“We work very closely with AHDB, but it is our role to be their critical friends,” he added.

“If we see things we do not feel are in the best interests of our members and levy payers, it is quite within our rights to hold them to account.

“We have asked [AHDB chief executive] Jane King to come back before the policy board and explain the success of the plans she gave us two years ago when she said how much money she was going to save and what she was going to put back in front of levy payers. I think it is time we asked her what has she actually achieved in those two years?”

full story: Farmers Guardian

China launches a pork-price index to smooth the “pig cycle”

The world’s largest pork market needs further consolidation

PIG is big in China. As the country’s economy has grown, so too has its consumption of pork. The average Chinese person today pigs out on 40kg of pork a year, up from 12kg in 1980.

Although China constitutes just one-fifth of the world’s population, it consumes half of its pork. Unfortunately for Chinese carnivores, however, the country has had trouble rearing enough pigs to meet growing demand. That has led to sharp price shocks.

China’s pork producers generally remain fragmented and inefficient. A fifth of the country’s domestic supply still comes from small-scale “backyard” farmers, who enter the market when prices suit them and exit just as abruptly. In recent years, such fluctuations in supply have contributed to large swings in prices, including spikes in 2008, 2011 and 2016.

To smooth this boom-and-bust “pig cycle”, Chinese officials have used price controls, subsidies and even a “strategic pork reserve”.

Now, the government is trotting out yet another measure to hamstring opportunists in the pork market. In March China’s Ministry of Agriculture and the Dalian Commodity Exchange (DCE), a large commodities marketplace, launched the country’s first pork-price index.

The new indicator, derived from daily data submitted by 89 hog producers across 16 provinces, will help farmers better understand market trends.

Later this year, the DCE plans to launch a hog futures contract, which will allow buyers and sellers to hedge future price fluctuations. Such financial tools could help reduce volatility. But unless Chinese pork producers grow fat enough to absorb the regular ups and downs of the market, the country’s pig-price problems will persist.

full story: The Economist

NZ and UK lamb producers in trade deal link-up talks

New Zealand’s powerful meat promotional body has begun discussions with UK producer groups about the possibility of collaborating on post-Brexit lamb deals to third countries.

According to Sam McIvor, the chief executive of Beef and Lamb New Zealand (BLNZ), negotiations started some months ago, and this week BLNZ representatives met Phil Stocker, the chief executive of the National Sheep Association.

At stake, post Brexit, is the possibility of the two nations jointly agreeing to supply third countries such as the United States and Saudi Arabia when their lamb is in season.

Mr McIvor said the UK and NZ lamb industries were complementary because their production seasons were at opposite times of the year.

He added: “We see good opportunities with the uncertainty of Brexit to look at third countries where we might be able to work together to grow new markets where we can supply together 365 days of the year.”

Speaking after this week’s meeting, Mr Stocker said it would be “foolhardy” for his association not to have the discussion with the kiwis.

“It makes sense to have a dialogue to see if we could unite and share knowledge,” he said.

However he admitted the timing was sensitive because of UK sheep farmers’ frustration over New Zealand imports into domestic markets

Mr McIvor said his organisation was in the early stages of investigating which countries could be targeted jointly by the UK and NZ. And he added that a deal to supply third countries might well lead to the New Zealanders sending less lamb to the UK.

Referring to a post-Brexit world, Mr McIvor said BLNZ worked closely with private meat companies and Government in order to get the best trade deals.

“We don’t have an option but to be good traders so we’re good at building relationships internationally, we’re good at understanding customers, we do a good job of producing stuff, so whether that’s around efficiency of production systems, or our food safety standards or traceability standards, we work really hard at those to make sure they don’t trip us up getting into markets.”

full story: Press and Journal

ANM Group new abattoir plans face planning appeal

Plans to build a new abattoir in the north-east may have to be “reassessed” if ANM Group loses its appeal to gain planning consent for an extension to its Thainstone Business Park.

That was the message from immediate past chairman Pat Machray at the annual general meeting of the north-east farmers’ co-operative earlier this week.

In August last year Aberdeenshire Council’s Garioch area committee threw out ANM Group’s plans to extend the Thainstone Business Park. The group has since lodged an appeal with government asking that the decision be overturned.

Previously the group said construction of the new Scotbeef Inverurie abattoir was dependent on the business park extension going ahead.

Scotbeef Inverurie is a joint venture between ANM and Scotland’s largest meat processing company J.W. Galloway. ANM holds a 25% stake in the firm.

Mr Machray, who retired from the role of chairman at the meeting, said: “If the appeal is won we will step forward immediately with everything.

“We need to get the infrastructure right for the site and we have planned for the abattoir to be in the right place so as not to disrupt neighbours. If we don’t get through this appeal the board, along with Scotbeef, will have to reassess the situation.”

full story: Press and Journal

Businessmen jailed over Halal meat fraud

Two Peterborough businessmen who cooked up a lucrative scheme to sell 160 tonnes of cheap turkey as halal lamb have been jailed
for five years.

Mahmudur Rohman, 46, of Rothbart Way, Peterborough and Kamal Rahman, 54, of Derby Drive, Peterborough, sold over 100 tonnes of turkey mince they claimed was halal lamb to butchers and restaurants. The 21 month-deception was uncovered by Leicester City Council’s trading standards.

Along with the jail sentence, they were both disqualified from being company directors for four years.

Dutch Bangla Direct Ltd were accused of selling over 100 tonnes of the low-cost white meat to takeaways and shops. The court heard the con-trick netted the now defunct meat wholesaler company a whopping £250,000 in profit.

full story : Peterborough Telegraph



NZ lamb shortage drives up prices

A drop in slaughter rates in New Zealand, the world’s largest exporter of lamb meat, has pushed up prices to multi-year highs in export markets.

Benchmark frozen lamb prices for legs, french racks, forequarters and flaps all lifted in March, according to AgriHQ’s latest monthly sheep & beef report.

Demand for lamb in overseas markets is coming at a time when supplies are lower than normal in New Zealand as good grass growth prompts farmers to retain their stock for longer to increase their weights.The latest lamb slaughter data for New Zealand shows the lamb kill in the fortnight to March 11 was 11 per cent below the same period a year earlier and 18 percent weaker than the five-year average, AgriHQ said.

“The overseas lamb trade held in exporters favour in March,” AgriHQ analyst Reece Brick said in his report. “Enquiry is still coming in at a steady rate, but low slaughter rates and the fact that some exporters have already forward sold significant portions of current production has left the international lamb trade short on product. The short-term outlook is positive.”

Full story: NZ Herald

2SFG plans factory closure – 600 jobs at risk

Hundreds of jobs are potentially at risk amid plans to close a West Midlands chicken processing factory.

The 2 Sisters Food Group said it was consulting on plans to close its plant  in Smethwick.

The group said the plant, which employs 630 people at Alpha Business Park, was “ageing”

“We are committed to our operations in the West Midlands and will work hard to ensure all possible options for colleagues are fully explored before any final decisions are made.”

The plant opened in 1996.