UK is missing out on lucrative overseas market for offal

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Supply and demand Beef Bovine spongiform encephalopathy Uk

UK is missing out on lucrative overseas market for offal
Britain’s meat processors are missing out on lucrative overseas demand for offal, it has emerged. This is particularly the case with tripe (large stomach lining) – and other so-called ‘fifth quarter’ by-products of carcass ‘deconstruction’.

While UK demand for offal is pretty low – primarily due to consumers’ squeamishness – supplies in countries such as France, Spain, Italy and Greece, where it is a high-value product, are failing to match demand, said the head of English meat exports at beef and lamb organisation EBLEX, Jean-Pierre Garnier.

Unfortunately, the quality of the UK’s tripe is not up to the standard of that supplied from South America, he claimed. Part of the problem is that because of lack of demand at home, UK processors are often unused to the processing techniques required to meet the yield and quality of products demanded by consumers abroad, said Garnier.

As well as tripe, more can be done to increase the value of other fifth quarter components, such as heart, blood, casings and other parts of slaughtered animals, such as hides, he said.

“We have been trying to increase the value of the fifth quarter compared with our competitors, but it has been a very hard slog,”​ said Garnier. “Because, obviously you need to have new practices and new export markets, including the Far East. Everything can be used but it needs to be harvested and processed in the right way.”

He added: “Now we are looking at an integrated approach.”​ Converting what is essentially waste into a revenue stream makes good business sense and reduces the environmental impact, claimed Garnier.

SRM rule relaxation

Garnier added that next March’s possible relaxation of controls on strategic risk materials (SRM) – such as the skulls, eyes, brain and spinal cord – introduced in the wake of the BSE crisis in cattle, could help to boost the fifth quarter market – particularly for sheep.

A conference on improving environmentally friendly and profitable use of the fifth quarter is being organised by EBLEX, BPEX (which deals with the pig supply chain) and the Food Chain and Biomass Renewables Association in Warwickshire on September 8.

“For the first time we are trying to link all elements of the chain from on-farm factors, processing quality, export sales, and minimising the environmental impact of these activities,”​ said Garnier.

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