Record UK beef prices lead to Irish cattle imports

Some processors have turned to live Irish cattle imports to secure beef during the tightest UK supply period since the 2001 foot-and-mouth epidemic.

Draconian paperwork and tight Irish numbers could limit volumes, but there have been several reports of cattle shipments into the UK from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Processors faced with unprecedented deadweight base prices of 420p/kg in Scotland (with deals also done in northern England at this level) have taken advantage of the usual price differential across the Irish sea, which is currently 18-20% lower.

Irish base prices were about 335p/kg at the start of the month, whereas many UK producers saw 400p/kg. Latest increases take UK trade beyond “horsegate” highs of June and July 2013.

Many expect the southern Irish beef to flow into the catering trade as restaurants and pubs reopen.

Numbers are tight because of higher supermarket buying during lockdown and a lower calf supply, stemming back to the Beast from the East cold and wintry conditions in 2018 and subsequent cow culling in the drought.



by Michael Priestley / Farmers Weekly

Scott Technology wins Aussie meat processor contract

Automation and robotic systems firm Scott Technology said it had won a $10 million contract to design and build a lamb-boning system for one of Australia’s largest meat processors, Thomas Foods International (TFI).

The investment by TFI will deliver improved product quality and increased yield of high-value cuts, Scott said.

The system uses advanced X-ray and vision technology to deliver a high accuracy of cutting, while also improving health and safety by removing much of the heavy cutting activities.

“Like many industries, the meat processing industry in Australasia and the United States continues to grapple with the challenges of improving worker safety while increasing yields, at the same time as struggling with major issues around labour availability,” chief executive John Kippenberger said in a statement.


Scott’s lamb processing technology is used in 13 processing plants across Australasia.

The system is to be installed at TFI’s Tamworth plant in New South Wales and will be designed and built from Scott’s Dunedin facility.

Newly restructured Scott last week said that it expected its earnings momentum to continue in the second half after returning to profit and paying a dividend in the first.


By NZ Herald

Welsh lamb moves online to capitalise on growth

UK red meat organisations are redoubling efforts to ensure that online retailers which have seen growth during the pandemic regularly stock Welsh lamb and beef.

With more people shopping online, promotional efforts for Wales’s iconic farming exports have been ensuring that PGI Welsh Lamb and PGI Welsh Beef aren’t left behind by the trend.

Whilst the online grocery sales trends has surged across the world over the last 12 months, it is also reported that shoppers in the United Arab Emirates spent more whilst doing online grocery shopping compared to when they visited stores.

In Europe, key Welsh lamb markets Germany, Austria and Switzerland have also seen a large rise in e-commerce, with grocery shopping benefitting from an increase.

It is estimated that approximately 28% of European consumers who live in urban areas used online shopping as their main channel for buying groceries during lockdown.

Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) and Welsh processing companies have redoubled efforts to ensure that growing online retailers stock Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef.



by Farming UK

UK meat processors fear permanent damage to trade with EU

British meat processors fear losing as much as 25pc of their pre-Brexit EU trade as a result of ‘massive increase’ in trade friction since January 1.

They also said concessions from the EU could only be achieved when EU exporters have to ‘jump through the same hoops’.

It comes as a new survey of UK meat processors indicated that EU red meat exports were running at no better than 50pc of pre-Brexit volumes in the first 6 weeks of 2021. Many, if not most, were operating well below this level at 30 to 40pc of pre-Brexit levels and some at zero.

The research carried out by the British Meat Processors Association said while the situation had improved since January, some of the core issues were ‘systemic’ and will lead to a longer-term, ‘possibly permanent’, loss of trade with the EU.

“Even the most optimistic exporters are talking about 15pc, and most around the 25pc mark as an estimate as to what this long-term loss of trade might be; some fear this is much higher,” Peter Hardwick BMPA Trade Policy Adviser said.

The loss of groupage, the haulage practice by which goods dispatched by several different companies are grouped together, has had a massive effect and broadly, the costs of exporting have doubled in most cases.

“The loss of groupage has had a massive effect and, broadly, the costs of exporting have doubled in most cases. Increased costs include the costs of certification, customs procedures and clearance and the corresponding charges from agents and increased charges from hauliers,” he said.



by Ciaran Moran /

New Zealand government expected to announce end to live exports

The New Zealand government is expected to end its live animal export trade.

It comes amid a months-long investigation by TVNZ’s Sunday programme into the conditions endured by cattle at sea.

“It’s a trade whose time has come, it’s a trade we should have got out of years ago,” vet and former head of Animal Welfare for MPI Dr John Hellstrom says.

The industry was thrust into the spotlight after the Gulf Livestock capsized last September in the East China Sea after leaving Napier.

Forty-one crew, including two New Zealanders on board died, alongside nearly 6000 cattle.

Following that the Government temporarily banned exports of live cattle, but allowed them to resume late last year with promises of improvements to the process.

Now they’ve changed their minds again – with plans to scrap the trade completely.

Exporter Dave Hayman has been sending live cattle overseas for 20 years and has been lobbying intensively to continue.

“Export gives the animals the opportunity to live a full productive life and, you know, in a very well-cared for environment,” Hayman says.

He says it fulfils a valuable role for the agriculture industry.

“Farmers do have surplus animals to sell and if we don’t export them, then the likelihood is that those animals will be culled at a very young age. It would be devastating to our farmers not to have that option.”

But opponents say – there are big question marks over the welfare of these animals during the journey by sea – and once they arrive in China.

“We take animals from an environment in New Zealand where they have a reasonably good life and send them to places where they have a pretty lousy life and in the process we subject them to a journey which gets increasingly stressful from a welfare point of view,” Dr Hellstrom says.

Last year nearly 110,000 cattle were exported from New Zealand to China. That’s a nearly threefold increase from the year before.


by 1 News NZ




Beef producers see red over Blue Peter campaign

The BBC has stooped to new depths in attempting to direct children in a way that could be harmful to their health and growth, says the National Beef Association (NBA) in response to the broadcaster’s new ‘one-sided’ Blue Peter initiative.

In an open letter to BBC director general Tim Davie, the NBA raises significant concerns with the new Blue Peter ‘green’ badge initiative, encouraging children to be ‘environmentally friendly’ by adhering to three tasks; turn off lights, use less plastic and not to eat meat.

“This absolutely implies that eating meat is not an environmentally acceptable thing to do,” says NBA CEO Neil Shand, in the letter sent to Mr Davie.

“Meat – of all origins, but especially red meat – is a valuable source of protein, vitamins and minerals, and is scientifically established to provide nutrients which are essential to development and growth of children,” he adds.

Many of these nutrients that are vital to a healthy food balance cannot be found naturally in any other food source.

The NBA believes the remit appears to be to encourage children not to eat meat, without giving any positive balanced view on the benefits of meat, either to their health, to local industry or to countryside.

It also fails to give any negative view on how fruit, vegetables and other plant food, along with their corresponding air miles, might impact the environment.

“It is incomprehensible that this type of programme should offer views which are at best unbalanced, and at worst irresponsible,” says Mr Shand.


by the Western Telegraph

Strong demand and tight supplies boost pork market

Strong underlying demand and tight supply continues to support the market, with price rises seen across the board, according to Thames Valley Cambac. 

Most of the major processors viewed Easter as a small inconvenience, and planned to work right through, TVC said in its latest weekly market update.

“This indicates that underlying demand is excellent, and that was reflected in prices where weekly contributions increased 3p and contracts were also helped by a near penny rise in the SPP. Supplies remained on the tight side and average weights continue to trend lower – the latest SPP sample weight being the lowest in 3 months,” it said.

“The fresh meat trade was buoyant with good demand seen nationwide. Prices improved across the board, and some orders remained unfulfilled.”

The cull sow market was affected by the holiday close down on the continent, but prices stood on. In Europe, France and Ireland saw decent increases, but price quotes in sterling were compromised by a weaker Euro that ended the week down 0.31p at 85.19p.

It was still a struggle for any 7kg weaners outside of contract commitments as accommodation is still at a premium.

Demand for 30kg stores was good, however, with many fatteners trying to back fill gaps in their systems. Prices of 30 kgs stores improved a touch as a result.



by Alistair Driver / Pig World

Meat sector report warns of long-term EU trade impact

Brexit will cost the UK meat sector up to £120m/year in extra vet and administration charges alone, a British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) report has warned.

The BMPA’s Brexit Impact Report called on the government to appreciate the difficulties being encountered throughout the meat supply chain.

Report in numbers

  • Additional export costs of £90m-£120m/year
  • Exports 50% down year-on-year in January to February 2021
  • Predicted permanent trade loss 20-50%
  • Mixed meat products (groupage) shipments have ceased
  • Export customer base eroded by delays and increased costs of UK produce

It questioned the government’s assertion that the UK was only experiencing Brexit teething problems.

While paperwork mistakes had been made on both sides in the early days, a more concerning long-term picture was starting to unfold, the report said. The systemic problems pose a bigger challenge – for example, a 60-100% increase in certification costs for each export consignment. The new procedure, which includes additional customs charges and  and extra vet inspections, will add £90m-£120m/year and is here to stay.

However, the actual figure will be higher still, said the BMPA, because this does not take into account increased freight insurance costs, administration time, labour and haulage charges.

For some UK companies, these costs will mean the loss of EU customers and resulting staff cutbacks, the BMPA warned.

The lost markets could sound the death knell for some UK companies, because exporting further afield was not an alternative, it added. Many companies sell chilled, short shelf-life products that are only suitable for export to our near neighbours in the EU.



by Jonathan Riley / Farmers Weekly

Brexit will lead to permanent loss of trade in meat, says BMPA’s new Brexit Impact Report

The British Meat Processors Association has published a Brexit Impact Report which draws on the experiences of meat exporters to date and says problems with new rules at the border are not going away and predicts a permanent reduction in trade.

The report says trade disruption at the borders is not simply ‘teething problems’ and sets out the additional cost to the UK meat industry per year to trade with the EU as being between £90-120 million as a result of an increase in certification costs for each export consignment..

British meat companies report mountains of red tape and a potential permanent loss of trade of between 20 and 50% the report states.

Nick Allen, CEO of The British Meat Processors Association explains: “British companies who are dealing with the new issues on the ground are best placed to offer constructive solutions; but these solutions need support and investment from Government to build a new system that is fit for purpose.”




Germany’s Toennies: next generation to take over, no comment on sales rumours

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s largest meat processor Toennies is growing and expanding as the next generation of the family is taking over, managing partners of it said on Friday, declining to comment on a report that the group was seeking a buyer.

“We do not comment on market rumours. After all, it is we who create the market and push for expansion,” Clemens Toennies and Maximilian Toennies said in a letter to staff that was seen by Reuters.

“Interested groups” were spreading sales rumours, it said.

Bloomberg News reported on Thursday that the family owners were seeking buyers for the 50-year-old firm and that a deal could value it at 4 billion euros ($4.8 billion).

Clemens Toennies owns around 45% of the stock, his nephew Robert Toennies around 50% and Clemens’ son Maximilian around 5%. “With Maximilian, the next generation is active in management, our international expansion is progressing step by step,” the letter said.

Toennies could be seen as a target for peers such as Tyson Foods, JBS SA and China’s WH Group and talks could start within weeks, Bloomberg said.