Brexit: Government action needed to avoid ‘serious disruption’ to meat industry

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Meat trade association voices concern about sector disruption with Brexit
Meat trade association voices concern about sector disruption with Brexit

Related tags: Brexit

The Government needs to address major issues around the meat supply chain as Brexit approaches, the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) has revealed.

The organisation said that the Government needed to address these issues to avoid “serious disruption”​, which could completely halt the trade of certain goods to the EU and possibly even other third countries.

While the BMPA admitted that “some progress​” had been made on the basic import and export processes, it said there were still several key issues that remained unresolved. 

In particular, it highlighted the health mark ‘UK’, which is the marking found on food products of animal origin, required by European Union food safety regulations.

ISO Standard 

The working assumption is that it might still be retained if a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is reached with the EU. The BMPA said this could include a negotiated agreement to continue to use ‘UK’ rather than the standard requirement that the EU has for third countries to use the ISO standard – ‘GB’. However, if a deal failed to be agreed, the UK would need to use the ‘GB’ mark for trade with the EU, it added. 

Writing on its website, the BMPA said: “We need clarity as soon as possible as to which way this will go and how soon the UK can move to the ‘GB’ mark if that is required. Technically, the UK has already left the EU, so it would be helpful to manage the transition to the new mark well ahead of the 31 December deadline.”

Another area of concern highlighted by the BMPA was groupage, which allows one or more suppliers to combine cargos. It said the current guidance from Government on groupage was only applicable to premises that were not producing fresh meat and there was no working protocol or procedure in place for grouped or mixed loads containing fresh or frozen meat or meat products.

Groupage 

It said: “If UK operators exporting fresh and frozen meat can no longer use groupage, they will be at a very significant competitive disadvantage.”

The BMPA also voiced its concern that the Government needed to establish whether countries had accepted that the UK would still be following EU legislation standards and that it would be exporting on a UK-based certificate rather than an EU certificate. 

At the end of the transition period, the UK would have to provide export health certificates (EHC). BMPA said that for certain products, such as fresh meat preparations or mince, there were currently no EHCs for imports into the EU from non EU countries. It has called on the Government to secure agreement on EHCs

Related topics: Meat, poultry & seafood

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