Following comments by an Australian minister that the country would only be sending “high-end cuts” to the UK once a free trade deal with the UK is concluded, the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) has highlighted the potential impact on UK farmers.

To illustrate their concerns, Peter Hardwick from the BMPA said that a 20ft container with 17t of a full range of meat cuts might represent the meat from just 60 animals.

However, if the container was filled with high-value boneless sirloins, these cuts would come from over 1,000 animals, and if it was filled with fillets, it could be three times that number.

“It’s not the amount of meat by weight that matters it is the amount of high-end, high value cuts that will have a disproportional impact on the marketplace,” he said.

The BMPA also points out that the value and profit in a beef animal is in high-end cuts like sirloins, rumps and fillet steaks, not mince, stewing joints and some roasts which are sometimes sold below the cost of production.

Without these higher-value products, beef production, regardless of where in the world it happens, wouldn’t be viable.


Meanwhile the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has outlined five key questions that the UK government needs to answer around future trade policy and ongoing negotiations with Australia.

The farm lobby organisation wants to know what safeguards will be included to protect domestic production, what the government’s plan is to continually review the impact of these deals, and what the strategy is to make UK farming more productive and competitive.

In addition, the NFU has questioned why a new statutory Trade and Agriculture Commission, the body tasked with scrutinising trade deals and providing advice to the UK Parliament before any deals are signed off, has not yet been set up.

Fifteen years

It is understood that the free trade deal being negotiated with Australia would include a 15-year transition to zero tariffs (taxes on imports) and zero quotas (restrictions on volumes). UK government ministers are keen to get the deal agreed ahead of the G7 summit, which begins in Cornwall on 11 June, and to which Australia has been invited as a guest country.

UK trade secretary Liz Truss has argued that a free trade deal with Australia will open up the possibility of a wider free trade deal with CPTPP countries. Australia is a member of this trans-pacific partnership with countries such as Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Japan.