Polish beef fears allayed

UK meat bosses have played down fears of increased Polish beef imports, after reports of a claimed renewed focus from the supermarket sector post-horsegate.

Stories in the farming press had claimed that an increased focus on cheap Polish meat by manufacturers and the multiple retailers was undermining the British price. However, Eblex has published a study which claims only a modest rise in imports from Poland, following a significant drop in the wake of the horsemeat scandal.

The levy body said that while Poland remained heavily export-dependent, shipping 80% of its production overseas, the majority of its trade in the past has been to Turkey and continental Europe.

A recent ban on ritual slaughter by the Polish Parliament has, however, disrupted trade to Turkey and displaced exports normally destined for that market. The bulk of that displacement has been within Europe, with the Italian, German, Spanish and French markets absorbing increased amounts of cheaper Polish beef exports. Eblex statistics show Polish beef averaging €3,300/tonne (t) in the first 10 months of 2013, compared with €4,700/t for German product and €4,200/t for UK product

Total exports of beef from Poland stand at 240,000t, with just 6,900t of that coming into the UK market.

Eblex said total Polish exports to the UK fell significantly in the period through February and March 2013 and, since then, have only shown a “modest uplift” in shipments. Of the total UK beef imports in the year to November 2013, Poland accounted for just 3%.

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