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Huge Variances In Post-Slaughter Deductions

04 November 2009

UK - The National Beef Association (NBA) has reported that total post-slaughter deductions for cattle, which are rarely mentioned publicly, can vary between £7.88 and £24.70 a head – and can cost specialist finishers, including those feeding cows, millions of pounds a year.

It says scores of abattoirs across the UK are charging finishers anything from £3.50 to £8 a head for bovine offal and risk material removal.

Others require payment of up to £10 a head to recover the cost of brain stem testing for over 48 month cattle, which should cost less than £5.

“The post-slaughter deductions demanded by UK abattoirs are an abysmal mess, which disguises the greed of some companies, while hiding the good intentions of others which take off little more than is demanded of them by statutory levies, classification costs, meat inspection charges and genuine operating costs,” explained NBA director, Kim Haywood.

“The net result is that finishers selling directly to greedy companies, that may lure them in by offering slightly more than the average quotation per kilo, could end up losing the equivalent of up to 3p per kilo, or about £10 a head, in deductions while the same abattoir, depending on its throughput and its costs, could pocket thousands of additional pounds.”

“Some price reporting abattoirs, which by definition process more than 20,000 prime cattle a year, are charging anything between £8.50-£12 a head above the £5.13 required to be taken off statutorily, and £1.50 for classification, and so can add anywhere between £170,000 and £240,000 a year to their bottom line.”

“Even if allowance is made for companies which face higher than average disposal and testing costs because of an inconvenient location it is impossible to avoid concluding that many plants are heaping unjustified additional cost on the farmer simply to widen their profit margin.”

National figures, obtained through finishers’ kill sheets show some prime cattle specialists, including Scotbeef, can take off just £9.70, or less, which includes statutory deductions, while others like Dawn Meats at Carnaby can demand £18.61 or more.

“These variations are an industry disgrace and deserve this publicity. Finishers should concentrate their attention on processors which offer a good price per kilo and deduct the least after the animal is slaughtered,” said Ms Haywood.

“It is beyond belief that some processors think they can get away with charging over £16 a head more than others. There are around two million prime cattle processed in the UK each year and the overcharging, conducted over a number of years, has already cost hundreds of finishers many millions of pounds,” Ms Haywood added.

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