Industry responds to no-deal notice for health marks on meat
The International Meat Trade Association (IMTA) has reacted to the Government’s latest Technical Notice on health marks on meat in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
IMTA represents importers, exporters and wholesalers of beef, lamb, pork and poultry. The organisation says this is a critical issue for its members and one that needs to be resolved as quickly as possible in order to avoid trade disruption and unnecessary costs.
The association says it is glad to hear that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) is not planning any changes to approval numbers in the event of no deal. This will save industry unnecessary disruption and costs.
The Technical Notice states that “the health and identification marks would need to change after 29th March 2019 if there’s no Brexit deal.” IMTA understands the UK must make a change to the marks to reflect that is no longer part of the EU; however its major concern is the handling of existing stocks and avoiding disruption to UK exports, to both EU and non-EU markets.
Existing packaging and stock
The Technical Notice states that: “If you don’t export, the FSA is currently considering proposals that may allow the continued use of the old identification marks on domestic produce for a limited time after 29th March. This would help to minimise the impact on industry by allowing businesses to use up old stocks of packaging.”
IMTA believes not allowing continued use of existing stocks in the UK market for a reasonable period of time, after 29th March, would result in huge costs to the industry.
A spokesperson said: “We believe that the FSA should confirm as soon as possible that existing packaging can continue to be used and for what timeframe. This would provide much needed certainty for our members. For the internal market the UK Government should allow a period of transition for ideally three years, certainly no less than two years during which either mark may be on the packaging.
“Information from our members indicates that those involved in packaging product need to maintain several months’ worth of packaging stock. Often companies have a policy of updating their packaging design annually. A hard change over from old to new would result in substantial packaging waste and needless cost to industry. Costs of re-packaging would be prohibitive, especially for some low value/low margin items that may be held in stock.”
IMTA appreciates FSA’s aim “to keep any change to the health and identification marks as simple as possible, minimise the impact on industry and ensure continued recognition by consumers in the UK, EU and countries that we export to outside the EU.”
The association says this is very important for its members as exporters to both the EU and non-EU.
The spokesperson added: “Enough time should be given from the announcement of the new mark to the implementation date in order for members to order packaging in time for 29th March to keep exports going.
“We would advocate that the UK Government should negotiate with the EU a transition period for this change. While this could cause issues for cuts of meat it is particularly critical for the so called fifth quarter. The export market for these products is critical for supporting returns to farmers.”