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Consumers would be deterred by treated imports

11th Dec 2018 / By Alistair Driver

Allowing imports of products like chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-treated beef in a post-Brexit trade deal could negatively impact the UK meat industry, according to new AHDB research.

More than half of 1,000 people surveyed by YouGov said they would buy less chicken and beef in the event of a deal being struck that saw meat treated in this way hitting supermarket shelves.

Although the practices are not currently allowed in chicken and beef production in EU Member States, the research shows the introduction of these imported products could reduce demand for domestic meat.

For chicken, just 28% of respondents said there would be no change at all to the amount they buy and 29% for beef.

Furthermore, if products such as chlorine-washed chicken and beef treated with artificial growth hormones did arrive on the shelves, only around one in five (19%) claim it would not have an impact on how they shop.

Eighty-three per cent of those surveyed said they would pay more attention to labelling, while 81% would be concerned about quality and look more closely at the product. More than three quarters of shoppers would also look more closely at production methods.

The issue is highly relevant to pigs, as highlighted in recent comments by Nick Giordano, of the US National Pork Producers Council. Writing in the January issue of Pig World, he said the UK must accept US standards under any post-Brexit trade deal, including the use of feed additive ractopamine in pigs. He said the EU's ban on the product was not justified by the science

Separate AHDB research by Future Thinking shows while people claim provenance (25%), quality assurance marks (13%) and welfare standards (9%) their influence at point of purchase is different – at 9%, 5% and 2% respectively. Ease, taste and price were found to be the key drivers in store.