Minister tells BMPA conference he is listening to the sector’s challenges

Minister tells BMPA conference he is listening to the sector’s challenges

Speaking at the annual BMPA (British Meat Processor Association) conference Minister of State at Defra, Mark Spencer MP told delegates: “My door remains firmly open to the meat industry.”

Minister Mark Spencer addresses BMPA annual conference at Butchers’ Hall.

Association president and board member of the ABP Food Group, Tom Kirwan, opened proceedings and said: “We are truly grateful to have you here Minister and for keeping channels of communication open.”

Kirwan went on to tell the Minister of the continuing and relentless issues the industry faces including labour shortages, the challenges of the illegal war in Ukraine, the fallout of Brexit, the far-reaching tentacles of the pandemic and the tightness of the supply chain.

He told the Minister: “To give you an idea of scale our members have had to bring in an additional 1,000 people at a cost of £15,000 per person just to keep things ticking over.”

Spencer appeared keen to reiterate that he was mindful of the challenges the industry faced and thanked those present: “For keeping our nation fed.”  

Kirwan placed great emphasis on the needs of the UK’s livestock producers, who BMPA members rely on for their raw material. “They need certainty and not just in the short term to have confidence to invest in the future.”

BMPA CEO, Nick Allen said: “We are delighted to have the Minister here and that channels of communication are genuinely open.” He also acknowledged the contribution of Defra’s head of agriculture sectors, John Powell, who attended the event.

Robotics and cultured meat

Delegates also enjoyed two first class presentations by specialists in their fields.

Marel’s automation centre manager, Hildur Einardottir, looked at automation today and towards the future. She presented the art of the possible, already in place in some US and Asian plants and the opportunities that AI could offer with learnings from the fish and poultry industries.

In a highly entertaining session Professor Paul Wood, of Monash University asked: “Will cultured meat transform the meat industry? The short answer was no. Wood demonstrated that at present, and into the foreseeable future the ability to scale new technologies in this arena at a reasonable cost remained a challenge.

  • A fuller report on the BMPA conference will appear in the July/August issue of Meat Management magazine.

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