HCC chief executive Gwyn Howells reinforced industry concerns over a no-deal Brexit and possible World Trade Organisation tariffs hitting key export markets.
Deal or no deal, he warned there would be a change in the way meat trade operated, the likes of which had not been seen by the industry in the last 40 years.
‘Not business as usual’
“If there is a deal, it’s not going to be business as usual – there will be some non-tariff barriers even if we get a good deal, which will be around administrative costs which will undoubtedly have a bearing on product price, either at the consumer end or, more likely, at the producer end,” said Howells.
“There will be ramifications and the world as we know it now will be different in terms of the value that we get from the market and the administrative burden we will have to carry.”
Levels of preparedness
HCC export market development executive Deanna Jones said the level of preparedness for red meat processors varied across the industry. However, even the most prepared businesses will still be faced with additional paperwork once the EU becomes a third country.
“Of course, the uncertainty around the tariffs is still a major cause for concern for all our processors,” she added.
Meanwhile, British consumer spending on beef totalled £551m in the 12 weeks to 1 November 2020, up 12.6% compared with the previous year, according to figures from research organisation Kantar Worldpanel.
The data also suggests shoppers’ recent choices are increasing profitability for the beef industry in terms of the selection of cut as well as the volume of sales, possibly as a result of increased home cooking during the COVID-19 pandemic.