New processor code slammed

The new processor code of practice, aimed at improving relationships between processors and livestock producers, has come under fire, being described as “ineffective” and “a nonsense”. 

Norman Bagley, who runs the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS), said the code of practice “is of no interest to my section of the industry at all”. Furthermore, a number of major processing businesses are yet to sign up to the scheme, including Dunbia and Dawn Meats.

The code was created by the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) and the National Farmers’ Union (NFU). An outcome of last year’s Defra Beef Summit, which looked at tackling the volaility of beef prices, it looks to increase transparency and protect producers.

However, Bagley said: “I personally wouldn’t urge people to sign up to it, although I’m not saying that they shouldn’t if they wish, but in my opinion the code would be ineffective and is basically nothing more than gesture politics. How is it supposed to help when the larger operators are trying to make a living in the middle of the four big supermarkets slugging it out to the death?

“Will farmers get a better return as a result? Yes if you believe in fairies. The authors of this nonsense would be better spending their time identifying more profitable markets for all. It has also been said that all responsible businesses will sign up to it; does that mean if you don’t sign up to it then you’re irresponsible? If so, such a statement is a complete travesty.”

The BMPA responded: "The code is voluntary and in its early days, there may be other processors who are yet to sign up.  There are no surprises in the code and processors that have good relationships with their producers are probably doing most of it already.”

A Dunbia spokesperson explained why the company is not currently part of the scheme: “Dunbia welcomes the spirit behind the introduction of the new code. As we were not party to its drafting, we will now consider it in detail to ensure that it meets Dunbia’s existing standards and practices.”

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