Brexit: Meat sent to EU for butchering then shipped back again

3 November 2021, 11:33

Meat is being shipped to EU countries for carving before being reimported to the UK
Meat is being shipped to EU countries for carving before being reimported to the UK. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

Carcasses are being shipped to the EU for processing before being reimported back to the UK due to a shortage of butchers in Britain.

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British cattle farmers are sending supplies to Ireland to be carved into cuts, according to the chief executive of the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA), before being brought back to the UK for consumption.

Similarly, pork producers are expected to start shipping slaughtered livestock to the Netherlands for butchering after a mixture of Covid and Brexit has seen many industry workers leave the UK, according to The Telegraph.

Chief executive of the BMPA Nick Allen told the Financial Times that farmers "are just about keeping their heads above water" but that the slaughter backlog was not showing any signs of slowing.

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It comes as thousands of healthy pigs have been culled because of the backlog building up on farms, due to the lack of butchers to carve the carcasses.

Zoe Davies, chief executive of the National Pig Association, said currently around 10,000 healthy pigs have been slaughtered, and added they were most likely to be piglets because they were easier to process than larger animals.

Stephen Thompson, a pig farmer from Sheffield, told LBC the industry was at its "wits' end" and said it was essential the Government made it easier for foreign abattoir workers to come to the UK.

"We don't need Government committees drawing up paperwork," said Mr Thompson.

"We need these people invited in now."

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He said other countries "can't believe what a mess we're in" and said Danish, German and Japanese media had visited his farm to document it.

"It really does need sorting and it needs sorting now," he said.

The Government announced on October 14 that it would allow butchers to enter the UK on temporary visas, lasting six months.

Environment secretary George Eustice said at the time the country needed an additional 800 butchers, and that the temporary visas would allow the "backlog" to be dealt with.

But by that point farmers had already begun culling healthy livestock, raising questions about the supply of meat for a number of popular Christmas food products such as pigs in blankets.