As August came to its close, the world's seventh largest - and South Korea's biggest - container shipping line, Hanjin Shipping, filed for court receivership, consumed by mounting debt schedules with creditors and increasing industry overcapacity.
While at times it felt as though summer didn’t really happen in 2016, there was plenty of positivity.
The livestock sector is already seeing the impact of the vote to leave the EU. Initially, the favourable exchange rate has helped support farm gate prices.
This silly season’s story award has to go to the writers of a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and reported in The Times.
Lazy young Brits won’t fill the void in the foodservice sector and the manufacturing industry that ill-educated and shortsighted Brexit voters may have created with last month’s EU referendum result.
Since Britain voted to leave the EU, a tsunami of panic has been unleashed, with politicians and commentators mixing spin, opportunism, mis-information and occasional facts to nourish the national unease. It’s easy to forget we have only voted to leave the governing machine of the EU, yet otherwise we remain part of Europe.
As everyone in the retail sector of our industry is fully aware, probably the most challenging part of running a business is finding the right personnel.
The major talking point among livestock farmers in recent weeks has been the impact of the new buying specifications for beef that has produced a major negative effect on their returns.
Locally sourced meat in local shops doesn’t sound like rocket science however it is not an opportunity that is often seized in convenience stores. We spoke to shoppers and 39% said that locally produced fresh meat is an important determining factor when choosing to visit that store. So why aren’t more stores doing it?
It still shocks me that the majority of the meat served in pubs is just not British, despite the pub being a bastion of Britishness.
Rob Shelley discusses the impact of the EU referendum on the shipping industry.
So we are nearly there, the big vote after months of lies and tosh on both sides. From my own personal point of view I'm an outer as rightly or wrongly I consider the whole EU construct to be nothing more than a virtual tyranny without the arms.
A recent survey by global shipping data source Alphaliner has revealed that, of the 16 main carriers which published financial results for 2015, just half recorded operating profits in the face of challenging market conditions. On closer inspection, their average operating margin was just 0.3%.
In 2015, the European Union exported just over a million tonnes of pork to China. Trade stats for the first few months of 2016 suggest a significant increase in exports, and this looks to be a continuing trend.
I always enjoy going to the SAMW conference each year, not just for the whisky, the presentations aren't bad either! It was interesting last week to glean that competition is emerging between Food Standard Scotland and Aviation House on cost of meat inspection, nearly 10 years after Tierney recommended competition to be a key requirement for change to the FSA Board.
The most puzzling current development in the international meat trade refers to Brazil. Over the last decade, meat production there has increased and large meat processing groups have been created, which have taken advantage of the rising appetite for beef, chicken and pork among the growing Brazilian middle class.
In a response to the National Beef Association’s assertion that beef prices have reached a five-year low (meatinfo.co.uk, 11 April), Norman, Bagley, head of policy at the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS), disagrees and argues that a shift in focus to higher-value areas of the market is the necessary course of action:
Cast your mind back to summer 2015. ‘Operation Stack’ saw 6,000 trucks jammed in a 35-mile queue on the M20 in Kent for many hours each day. The Freight Transport Association (FTA) estimated the daily cost to be £750,000 as HGVs idled and the UK supply chain suffered.
Many say the EU is full of red tape, but we seem perfectly capable of tying business up all by ourselves. New international regulations on safety at sea (SOLAS) are due to arrive in July 2016, requiring verified weighing of containers. Everyone supports the reasoning behind the regulations: to prevent destabilising a vessel etc.
Custom data released recently show that exports of meat and livestock products fell by an estimated 8.5% to £2.15bn in 2015. This represents the first fall since the early 2000s but should not come as a surprise as all commodities fell in 2015 and the value of sterling rose by more than 20% against the euro.
A recent article in the Farmers Weekly magazine, claiming New Zealand exporters are “misusing their EU quota” and “flooding” the UK lamb market, fails to recognise that trends in lamb consumption have changed considerably since the early 1980s.
Demand for and trade in meat is dependent on incomes and the economies of individual countries and on currency variations.
With an impressive 50% growth in the global meat trade over the past 10 years, meat shippers may have been thinking that Christmas was never-ending. Yet the past three years have witnessed a slowing of the meat trade rate to less than half the growth previously experienced.
At the recent IMTA Forum, international trade negotiations opened proceedings. TTIP (EU/US) is currently in its 12th round of negotiations and many more are likely to be required before it can be signed off.
Happy exporters are back from Food & Hotel China (FHC) in Shanghai, an event marked by the visit of Secretary of State for the Environment Liz Truss to China. The five major UK pork processors all now have representation in mainland China, a testimony to our commercial progress. They are highly positive regarding prospects and report brisk sales.
The meat industry opens several doors to people who may not necessarily want to follow a career in butchery – such as engineering, IT or even sales and purchasing – the opportunities really are endless.
About 15% of the world’s population suffer from chronic hunger, we grow enough food but it is not distributed properly and many cannot afford it. By 2050 the world population will increase by 2 or 3 billion, there will be increased use of agricultural land for biofuels and higher incomes will increase demand for food. This could double the need for food production providing of course we solve the problems of access and poverty.
Just back from Central Africa, it is worth reflecting on these important markets. After Asia, Africa is the main region where British meat is exported outside Europe. The mission we organised was not for the faint-hearted. For example, this was the first ever British commercial mission to take place in Kinshasa, the metropolis of Central Africa. Visas, immigration procedures and difficult logistics add to the difficulty.
Ahead of the forthcoming negotiations in Brussels on the use of nitrites in meat products, discussions between the FSA and industry are in full swing.
"He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee." When Nietzsche made this statement he was talking about how we are manipulated by the language and morality we have inherited, in which we unthinkingly create our own fears.
A few months ago now I attended a Halal Meat Conference hosted by AHDB Beef & Lamb. Now I've attended meat and food events and conferences in the past, but never one focused on halal.
Productivity is a much used word these days. The media has recently highlighted that our output per hour in the UK is over 30% lower than in the US, Germany and France. Over time new technology and better skills tends to improve productivity, but since 2007 this gap between us and our principle foreign competitors has widened. Now countries like Spain and Italy have not only caught us up but now show better productivity.
The halal sector adds value to the sheep market in particular and, increasingly, for the cattle market. Halal presents a significant market opportunity, which processors can capitalise on, particularly when it comes to sheep meat.
The sorry saga of ‘Horsegate’ may now have staggered to a conclusion. Farmbox pleaded guilty to having goat trim and other low value remnants labelled as mutton or lamb trim. None of this product had been sold as such and it had already been identified by the plant as incorrectly labelled and put aside. Enquiries demonstrated that, at that time, not a single plant in the UK distinguished small volumes of goat from mutton.
Rizvan Khalid, owner director of Euro Quality Lambs, explains why the issue of harmonising halal standards is complex and how the industry can learn from the New Zealand system
As an animal lover, I sometimes question how we can bottom out the fact that so many pigs are killed each week to make our sausages. I also find it difficult to give detailed assurance on the welfare of the pigs we use. I should make it clear we use 100% fresh British Pork 100% of the time and we endeavour to use pork from our region where ever possible. All the meat is fully traceable back to the original farm. These farms subscribe to a number of welfare schemes.
Paul Garnham, MD Europe and Africa for Tyson International argues that the British retail and farming sectors should less protectionist when it comes to their beef offer and open up to a greater selection of foreign products.
Dr Phil Hadley, southern senior regional manager at Eblex, explains why quality improvements must always be to the fore in retaining consumer confidence and maximising returns
I get the impression that, before releasing the campylobacter poultry meat supermarket statistics to an expectant world, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) looked over the parapet and had a slight change of heart. It was as if it had suddenly realised that it was set up to prevent food scares by scientifically assessing and communicating food-related risks, not to start hares running.
Charles Baughan, MD of Westaways Sausages, reveals how embracing social media has streamlined enquiries and made business easier
Fifth quarter has increasingly made the headlines in recent weeks, from both an economic and ecological perspective.
Well, well, how to misjudge the public mood! Unison, having spent weeks scaremongering the public about threats to public health by those awful abattoirs who would knowingly ignore oceans of contamination on carcases now look as if they have shot themselves and their members slap bang in the foot.
It is a commonly discussed subject; the average age of a UK butcher seems to be between 50 and 60. I wonder what the average age would have been in 1950 after the war?
Well, guys and dolls, you know you have really arrived when you’ve been invited along with the great and the good (and the less good - meaning me) by the Minister to no less than two hours in London, expelling hot air about how to save the beef industry from its present malaise.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) sometimes gets a bad press in Meat Trades Journal and it is often challenging for us, keeping consumers safe and implementing regulations. This is the first blog I’ve written for MTJ and there are many things I could have picked as a topic, but I thought I would start with an important issue that has had a long journey.
We come from the West Country and we think our little corner is a pretty fine place. It has the uplands of the moors, the lush river valleys, the isolated fishing harbours and chocolate box villages. Food and drink is a vital sector, with around 15% of all jobs in the region and some 2,500 companies.