Both small and medium-sized meat processors could generate up to £100 per head from fifth-quarter meat, which Eblex said was a “golden opportunity” being missed by many.
To highlight the multiple opportunities available to businesses, Eblex announced it would be coordinating a series of free process reviews – on request – for abattoirs. The reviews have been arranged to help abattoirs identify how to maximise potential market opportunities through full carcase utilisation – particularly of fifth-quarter products.
Eblex will also look at current procedures used by companies, as well as discussing the options available for processors to enhance their export offering, which will include information on markets, specification and packaging requirements.
Southern regional manager for Eblex Dr Phil Hadley said he was convinced there were far wider opportunities for small to medium-sized processors: “Most of the bigger processors are already taking advantage of fifth-quarter exports, which is encouraging, but these opportunities also exist for smaller processors. Our aim is to work with them to help identify how they can also benefit commercially from sales of fifth-quarter products.”
Speaking at the Association of Independent Meat Supplier (AIMS) conference at the weekend (6 October), Hadley said that plants needed to look at the expanding range of fifth quarter products that could find markets.
He said that the markets had moved on: “We should be mindful of all the opportunities to harvest these products, meet the specifications and try to find a market where we can.”
The primary markets for fifth-quarter products are currently China, the Middle East and North Africa, as well as smaller markets in the Caribbean and southern European countries, such as Spain.
Eblex is hoping to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Chinese authorities, and will be working towards this during their trade visit in a few weeks' time, in order to give a longer-term plan to gain direct access for beef and lamb fifth-quarter products. Access for pork products is already well ahead of beef and lamb, and although full direct access may be five years away, Hadley said, the memorandum would be a big leap forward.
Products going directly to China could add around 20p/kg to the price above and beyond those making their way to China through secondary routes, such as Hong Kong, Hadley told delegates, and with meat consumption in China per population twice that of the USA and accounting for 25% of total meat production, even a small shift in that marketplace would have a huge impact across the world.
He said: “There’s a huge range in terms of the products from wet markets on the street to the frozen products imported from all over the world, to more of the higher-class, higher-quality, higher-priced opportunities, and everything in between.”
Hadley also highlighted the need to reduce waste and boost the bottom line in terms of production, which could be achieved by better communication up and down the supply chain. He said that around 22% of cattle livers were rejected due to liver fluke damage, at a loss of around £2m in value, while excessive knife damage during meat inspection was another contributing factor to losses.
“There’s a real imperative for the industry to look at ways of communicating this more effectively to farmers,” he said, “and ensure a level of inspection what reflects the value of these products.”
Norman Bagley, policy director of AIMS, confirmed that the processor organisation is putting in place measures to help smaller plants meet the logistical challenges of increasing fifth-quarter exports. AIMS is working with Global Protein Solutions to tackle the problems of packing, boxing and delivering products to cold stores. One collection centre has already been opened in the south east, with a further four planned in the next 12 months.