HC Deb 20 May 1957 vol 570 cc857-8
40. Mr. Wiley

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what losses have occurred in the storage of canned meat by his Department; and what steps he has taken to avoid such losses.

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Derick Heathcoat Amory)

The total loss to date represents about 7¾ per cent. of the total cost of acquisition and maintenance of the reserve of canned meat. The greater part of this was due to the elimination, before the end of State trading in meat, of certain packs unsuitable for long-term storage. The remainder have been placed in humidity-controlled storage which should prevent deterioration from rust.

Mr. Wiley

While welcoming the fact that this canned meat is now subject to better storage, may I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman can explain why it was not in better storage from the beginning? Was it not made quite clear from the beginning that, as these were strategic stocks, they would probably be held for a long time?

Mr. Amory

There must always be some loss on the turnover of these stocks. At the time that this was bought, meat was not in very plentiful supply, and it was expected that it would be easy to turn the meat over quickly and sell it without appreciable loss. In fact, meat came into much more plentiful supply. At that time there was also a very inadequate amount of humidity-controlled storage. That position has been rectified since.

Mr. Royle

Is it not a fact that canned meat is regarded in the main as an emergency store? In those circumstances, would it not always be advisable to see that preparation is made for a long period?

Mr. Amory

I agree, but at the time there was not humidity-controlled storage available for the whole stock. At that time, in 1953, it was very much easier to sell turnover canned meat because the supply of fresh meat was much less than it is today.

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