The European Livestock and Meat Trades Union (UECBV) has called for European politicians to treat food strategy with higher importance, saying food safety is one of the main concerns facing the world.
Speaking at a visit to a Belgian meat plant ahead of the Belgian Meat Office Roundtable, UECBV’s new president Philippe Borremans told delegates: “Food is strategic for the USA, Russia and other countries, but in Europe we say it is energy, and that food is not a problem. For the next 20 to 30 years, food will be of strategic importance and we have to have the same strategy as the USA.”
“We need production. There is no meat industry if there is no slaughter or production,” he said.
Jean Luc Merieux, UECBV’s secretary general ,pointed out that while global meat consumption was doubling, production, particularly in beef was reducing across the globe. He argued that the highly-anticipated reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) can play a crucial part in stimulating production, and the UECBV is currently building its strategy to deal with the negotiations.
“We want to ensure livestock producers are confident enough to keep producing,” he said, arguing that it will be important to build up the entire supply chain.
The second goal of CAP reform would be to encourage research and innovation, he said, but there was a lack of financial resources for innovation in the sector. “We need to be sure that the EU citizens will accept innovation, including GM farming.”
“There are critics about meat at EU level and beyond,” he said. “In newspapers, only negative studies are on the line, no-one looks at those that are positive.”
“It’s not the dissemination of information that is the problem, but the wrong information - and it is up to the UECBV to rectify this or we will lose our market share.”
Borremans agreed that the image of meat needed to be addressed, saying that members of each national federation in the UECBV should strive to produce one coherent message across the sector. “If we don’t come with the same message, we won’t change the perception of meat,” he said.
Philippe Borremans was elected as president of UECBV in June. He is the CEO of Belgian beef processor, Viangro S.A.