Senior figures from UK abattoirs ABP, Dunbia and 2 Sisters faced questioning from the Efra committee
Senior figures from UK abattoirs ABP, Dunbia and 2 Sisters have faced questioning from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) committee on changes to cattle grids which have reduced the value of cattle by 7 per cent, according to AHDB.
Tom Kirwan, ABP UK chief executive, disputed AHDB’s figures of £1.1 million per month being knocked off cattle prices.
He told committee MPs: "If you take three critical weeks, the week before the changes, £1,095 was the average cost of my animals. The week during it was £1,097 and the week after was £1,100.
"I do not recognise this value was missing. When it comes to the average value of cattle, it has not changed."
The farming industry has complained about penalties for cattle of more than 380kg being brought in at short notice.
But John Dracup from 2 Sisters said it was the most effective way to source what their customers want.
He said: "Unfortunately, farmers respond far more to penalties than they do premiums."
Tesco group quality director Tim Smith also appeared in front of the committee and said his firm’s specifications were reflecting customer demand.
But he claimed it had not had any part in the changes to the grid and the supermarket was receiving what it needed from processors before changes were made.
Mr Dracup told MPs the industry’s voluntary code should become mandatory, which specifies a 12-week notice period for any changes to terms and conditions. Fewer than one in 10 abattoirs have signed up to the code.
He said: "I was slightly disappointed there was not a wider uptake. I would welcome it becoming mandatory because it is all about transparency.”
Dunbia has not signed up to the code of conduct and Jim Dobson, group managing director, called for the code to be applied across the entire supply chain.
Mr Smith said Tesco had given nine months’ notice to its suppliers over its most recent specification changes.
Mr Dobson also suggested AHDB needed to repeat its report over a longer period of time to get a more accurate view.