Mistaken view on beef

Regular readers of MTJ will know that Liz Murphy of the IMTA writes in alternate issues - with Jean-Pierre Garnier from EBLEX providing good information on exports for British meats.

I am sure we study each other's notes closely, but I watched him go off course recently, when he devoted half of his column to imports from Argentina - and how we should ignore those who claim that the UK and Europe do not need to produce their own beef because we can always import.

He goes on to point out that Argentina is facing a fall in production and, indeed, will be a net importer in 2010 - but this is not the case!

Jean-Pierre knows that the folk in Argentina are big fans of their own beef: they eat a staggering 68kg per capita each year. The next-biggest eaters of beef are in the US, at 44kg per capita. This compares with just 18kg per capita in the UK. The Argentinians obviously love the tenderness and flavour of their own beef - mostly Hereford and Angus bloodlines, so who can blame them? I cannot imagine that Paul McCartney's meatless day would make any headway in Buenos Aires.

The fact is that they produce about 3mt of beef annually and their export business is sizeable. The figures now being talked about are imports of a mere 10,000t to balance out the cut requirements. This does not make them a net beef importer, which the EU became in 2003. The important thing to remember is that, looking at world production levels of beef and estimates of world population levels in a few years' time, there will be demands for much more beef globally than is currently available.

We need more production from all sources. We need it soon, and the marketing systems are in place to ensure that good-quality product will flow to where it is needed and appreciated. Exports and imports are vital to us all.

Doug Brydges OBE, president International Meat Trade Association

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