The View from Northern Ireland: Ulster Farmers’ Union beef and lamb chairman Robert Davidson has raised concerns over reports of an influx of Polish beef coming into Northern Ireland saying that it is undermining local producer prices and that processors and supermarkets would do well to remember the lessons learned following the horsemeat scandal earlier this year.
According to Davidson: “The rise of Polish beef imports into Northern Ireland is angering farmers and many feel it is a deliberate attempt by processors and supermarkets to drive down the price of local beef.
“In fact, this is the first time for as long as I can remember that beef prices have fallen before Christmas. Northern Ireland has a world-class beef industry and our Farm Quality Assurance scheme ensures that consumers get high-quality, safe and traceable beef. Our farmers work incredibly hard and deserve a fair price for their meat.”
He stressed clear labelling is important. “Consumers want to buy reasonably priced food but they also what to know where it comes from. Unfortunately, current labelling legislation does allow some retailers and processors to exercise their creativity. The beef in your ready-made lasagne may be from Poland but if it was slaughtered and processed here the label could say ‘Northern Ireland’ or even ‘UK’ giving the impression that the meat is local,” he said.
The UFU met with representatives from the Northern Ireland Meat Exporters Association last week where concerns were raised about these Polish beef imports.
It has also written to the Agriculture Minister, Michelle O’Neill, pressing them to ensure that food is sourced locally for government food contracts.