The first SIAL since the beef export ban was lifted was bound to be a cause for celebration, and the speakers attending the EBLEX and BPEX British Meat Dinner in Paris drew attention to the achievements of those who have worked especially hard to mak

e it happen.

Peter Barr, chairman of the MLC, opened the evening by talking about beef exports: "I can confidently say we are back! The restrictions of the date based export scheme were finally lifted in May this year.

"Since then, exports have returned strongly and at present, exports from English plants are running at around 700t a week and to 11 different member states.

"This is great news and has been a great boost to farmers who have seen prime cattle prices rise by over 20% compared with last year."

Stewart Houston, chairman of BPEX, spoke about pork exports: "We're seeing increasing demand for a product that is uniquely British, whether that be pies, sausages or bacon.

"That's because our unique selling point is that everything we do is assured from farm to plate, from conception to consumption."

Ambassador Sir John Holmes spoke of the "long and difficult period for the UK beef industry" and his delight that after years of attending dinners and events when he spoke confidently of the return to British beef exports, the ban has finally been lifted.

"There is, clearly," he continued, "a huge distance to travel. It will take time to regain lost markets.

Sir John paid tribute to the work of Remi Fourrier, head of the MLC in France. "Remi has worked tirelessly, often in the face of local scepticism and opinion. to promote UK beef, lamb and pork in France.

"Without Remi's behind-the-scenes efforts and collaboration with importers, processors and supermarkets, I am certain that the French market would not have been as prepared as it was, and as accepting as it has been, of the return of British beef."

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