Meat processors focused on keeping plants open as coronavirus spreads – BMPA

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The meat processing sector will do everything it can to keep plants open as the impact of coronavirus in the UK grows, the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) has said.

As the UK braces itself for significant further spread of the COVID-19 virus, with potentially huge economic impacts, which are also being felt globally, the meat processing sector faces a number of challenges.

These include uncertainty about trade at home and in the global marketplace and potential labour shortages as the virus infects more of the population.

BMPA chief executive Nick Allen said: “This is a fast changing situation at the moment with things changing, almost on an hourly basis as more information comes through.

“It is really difficult to assess impact at the moment as, not only are there restrictions being put in place country by country but transportation routes are being disrupted.

“At the moment, plants are focusing on taking as many precautions as they possibly can so that they can keep open and keep the supply of food rolling.”

The initial impact of the virus was on exports to China, the first country to be affected, with reports of shipments into being delayed and cancelled due to logistical difficulties at Chinese ports and, in January, flat demand during the usually buoyant Chinese New Year holiday.

However, there were no signs of any knock-on effects on pork prices during February. In fact, while the UK price was static, average EU prices rose by around 9p/kg during the month to average €192.92/100kg (about 171p/kg), fractionally ahead of the UK reference price.

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