NFU voices concern over abattoir waste charges

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has claimed that abattoir waste charges have been hiked up in recent weeks, and has called on processors to explain the rises.

The NFU announced that its members were concerned that charges had increased by more than 60% recently. Livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe said: “The picture is not consistent, with the majority of processors clearly managing the volatility within processed commodity markets and, to their credit, they have not passed these costs back to farmers. Waste disposal costs are quite clearly an operating cost to the processor’s business and are out of the farmer’s control. We are convinced that these costs should be built into the base price quoted to the farmer, in the same way as changes to the hide or fifth-quarter values are.”

The union wants more information and transparency on the issue. Sercombe added: “We have identified that charges vary widely between processors and we need to understand the reasons for this wide variation. We will be asking processors to sign up to a code of practice that requires them to provide clear information about their company’s terms and conditions of trading, and to make this available to their suppliers.”

Norman Bagley policy director at the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS) responded: “After a sustained period of extremely high commodity prices, which were giving great returns to the renderers, the party is well and truly over.

“With commodities like fat we have seen falls of 50% or more in their value, which is now resulting in significantly higher rendering prices. After a sustained period of historically low rendering prices over the last couple of years, we now seem to be returning to what may be more like the norm. We have been here before, but we hope that we don’t see more rises in the coming months.”

The NFU, however, was complementary about the advances made by some processors. Sercombe said: “It’s also very interesting to note that some processors are doubtless ahead of others in their waste management, and it’s encouraging to see 2 Sisters taking the recent decision to install anaerobic digesters at 10 of their plants, which I believe will generate 10,000 MWh of electricity.”

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