Importance of working together and good supply chains highlighted at BMPA conference

Good supply chains are vital to the success of the meat industry, said the president of the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) Peter Mitchell, at its annual conference last week. 

During his opening speech at the event, held at The Law Society in London, on 4 June, Mitchell also called for better regulation, the continuation of a competitive market in food production, better access to third country markets, and improved standards in food quality, which he said also involved communicating to consumers “just how high our standards are”.

He also said it was important to counter attacks on the meat industry, and promote its positives.

One of the key points he made was that progress could be made through working together better with government departments. “We want a real working relationship with the Food Standards Agency, not merely ‘stakeholder engagement’”, he said.

However he warned about the impact of leaving the EU, and said we risk “still having to live by EU rules but without any say in it”. “We should seek improvements on working in Brussels,” he added.

Also speaking at the event was Defra minister of state George Eustice, chair of the Food Standards Agency Tim Bennett, Professor Chris Elliott, author of the Elliott Review who is a professor of food safety and director of the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast, and Jack Bobo, senior advisor - global food policy at the US State Department.

Eustice spoke about the new food and farming strategy that the government is looking to introduce by the end of this year, as well as the importance of increasing British meat exports, particularly to countries such as China. “We all know there are big opportunities for fifth quarter products in these kinds of export markets. However we are not just focusing on big markets like China, but smaller markets also,” he said.

Elliott gave an update on the progress of the new Food Crime Unit, which has around a 30-strong team, with regional centres currently been established. He said that many found his intermi report in December 2013, uncomfortable reading, but he says he wrote it to be “uncomfortable”. “When you don’t understand your supply chain, it leaves you extremely vulnerable to food fraud,” he warned.

And while he said there is certainly still work to be done “we are in a better position than any other EU Member State, which is a positive message we can take away as an industry”. He also noted the high uptake of the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety Version 7, which includes an authencity and fraud module.

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