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Independent Buyers See Markets As The Future

14 May 2010

UK - Britain's independent meat suppliers, who supply some 40 per cent of the country's red meat trade, believe a thriving network of livestock auction markets across the UK is a vital factor to ensure a profitable future for their businesses.

These buyers supply a variety of different markets, including a large majority of the Halal and Kosher sectors, as well as High Street butchers, farmers markets and through the Internet.

The country's rapidly growing Halal trade is particularly important to both the independent sector and UK livestock producers. Demand for this meat has become so significant that the English Beef and Lamb Executive (EBLEX) has set up a special Halal Steering Group.

"The markets provide the flexibility our members need to meet their customers' requirements accurately," explained Norman Bagley, policy director of the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS), which represents small and medium-sized abattoirs, which supply most of the beef and lamb for the ethnic trade across England and Wales.

"These buyers prefer to source the livestock they require from auction markets instead of on contract or direct from farmers because the markets give them more choice and they can choose the livestock they want themselves. Most importantly, they can buy according to demand," explained Mr Bagley.

Alastair Sneddon, chairman of the Livestock Auctioneers' Association, which represents the auctioneering firms that occupy and run the markets in England and Wales, said: "The auction market system is open and transparent, as well as flexible, and allows all buyers to secure the best deals.

"It also provides important local outlets for Britain's livestock producers, offering them the opportunity to capitalise on the client base of a variety of different sectors, so they can receive the optimum price for all their animals."

Asked what would happen to the independent trade if the livestock auction markets disappeared, Mr Bagley warned it would cause a major disruption to trade and could lead to the major processors strangling competition, with disastrous consequences for both his members and farmers. "As far as AIMS members are concerned, the marts need to maintain their market share in the face of much bureaucratic and retailer prejudice to retain critical mass of throughput," he added.

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