UK red meat sector faces 'permanent change' in new year

There will be red meat sector changes whatever the outcome of Brexit, HCC warns
There will be red meat sector changes whatever the outcome of Brexit, HCC warns

The UK red meat sector must prepare for 'inevitable and permanent change' from 1 January 2021, an industry body has warned.

Concerns have been raised over a possible no-deal between the UK and the EU, and the possibility of WTO tariffs hitting key export markets hard.

Because of this, the red meat supply chain must prepare for change whatever the result of the talks were, according to Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC).

The body warned that 'deal or no deal', there would be a change to trading that the industry had known for the last four decades.

Even if there was a 'good deal', it added, it was not going to be business as usual, as there would be the establishment of non-tariff barriers.

HCC chairman Gwyn Howells said this would be around administrative costs which would "undoubtedly have a bearing on product price, either at the consumer end or, more likely, at the producer end."

“There will be ramifications and the world as we know it now will be different in terms of the value that we get from the market and the administrative burden we will have to carry,” he added.

Deanna Jones, HCC’s export market development executive, said most of the Welsh red meat processors had been contacted and their state of preparedness varied from firm to firm.

“I’d say the larger processors that are experienced in exporting are as prepared as they can be and yes, there will be additional paperwork as, when we leave the EU, Europe will become a third country to us.

“Of course, the uncertainty around the tariffs is still a major cause for concern for all our processors,” she said.

On exit, the current EU New Zealand sheep imports quota would need to be divided out between the EU and the UK and Mr Howells reported it was likely to be a split of around 50% each.

“It’s been a matter of discussion for four years or so and possibly resolving it could still be a challenge," he said.

"But the latest position is that the New Zealand tariff rate quota was 229,000 tonnes a year and, on the basis of trading evidence for the past three years, they will split the quota half and half.”