Europe irons out a few sticking points

WTO talks, CAP reform and the review and amendment of legislation affecting the meat industry were just a few of the issues on the menu at the recent UECBV conference, the European Meat Trading Union's meeting in Edinburgh. Keren Sall reports on the

Consumers are increasingly concerned about the whole sustainability issue. That was the message from Chris Brown, director of ethical trading at Asda. at UECBV. "Carbon footprints which take into account energy and water usage are becoming the new animal welfare," he said. He added industry was responding faster than government to consumer needs. "It is an area in which we cannot afford to prevaricate. We need to make sure we are responsive to customer needs."

Brown also brought up the issue of producer supplier relationships. He said it would to be nice to say everything was rosy in the garden but there were still challenges to be met, such as price and food safety. "Consumers are driven by price and see food safety as a given and put faith in the name on the door. So we have to make sure we have a responsive supply chain. Farm standards are being marked to EU standards and at the same time we recognise British consumers support the idea of local produce."


From a livestock perspective, Brown was quick to point out it was not just producers who were affected by CAP retailers were also, he said. "Everyone is looking for the silver bullet. We hope our relationship with producers is one of trust. Trust doesn't come in anything but fractions."

He said although many would say there is an imbalance in producer-supplier relationships this would inevitably change when demand started outstripping supply. "Good relationships require commitment on both sides. There is a big problem engaging with farmers. We have to get away from throwing bricks at each other from trenches."

Brown also examined changes in consumer lifestyle which he said were dictating customer needs. "Lives are getting full and more complicated while expectations are getting higher. At the same time retailers are expected to balance taste needs and health concerns. It means we can't afford to stand still. That is why in the past you would see meals labelled as Italian and now we have a Tuscan range as customers become more knowledgeable."

My Account


Most read


For the third year running, a grain fed cow won the World Steak Challenge. What do you think produces the best beef?