HC Deb 29 October 2001 vol 373 cc516-8W
Mr. Gray

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussion he has had with the Meat and Livestock Commission about the sourcing of meat for consumption by the armed forces from United Kingdom sources; and if he will make a statement. [10792]

Dr. Moonie

We continue to work closely with the Meat and Livestock Commission to explore ways to increase the proportion of British meat we buy competitively. This has been a successful partnership and contributed to, for example, the supply of 100 per cent. British beef to our UK-based Service personnel between autumn 1998 and summer 2000. We continually monitor, with the Meat and Livestock Commission, the list of meat products required for the armed forces, and look for products which can be supplied from wholly United Kingdom sources. As a direct result of this communication and frequent meetings between the Defence Catering Group. the Meat and Livestock Commission and '3663', our food contractor, a range of British meat products have been added to a "core" list of products available to the armed forces, including British lamb shoulder and British thick rib beef. We will continue our dialogue with the Meat and Livestock Commission in order to maximise the amount of British product that can be supplied competitively.

Mr. Gray

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much(a) beef, (b) lamb and (c) pork was purchased since 1 January 2000 for consumption by the armed forces; how much of it was sourced from the United Kingdom; at what total costs; and what the per tonne cost from (i) United Kingdom and (ii) overseas sources has been. [10791]

Dr. Moonie

Since 1997 the task of buying food for the armed forces has been contracted to '3663' (formerly known as Booker Foodservice) and it is the Ministry of Defence's policy to require them to seek the best price in the open market; to do otherwise would contravene European law. Our contractor is specifically required to give full consideration to British products, which we look to them to buy wherever they are competitive.

Since January 2000, 3,983 tonnes of beef, 1,369 tonnes of lamb and 2,075 tonnes of pork have been supplied to the armed forces by '3663'. The average annual cost of beef and lamb is some £6 million and £2 million respectively. The average annual cost of all pig meat, including pork, is £2.5 million.

In the case of beef, during the year 2000, 87 per cent. of all beef supplied (1,892 tonnes) was sourced from the UK. This followed the agreement we secured from the EC to release British intervention beef at competitive prices. As was announced to the House in July 2000 and again in May 2001, these stocks ran out during the summer of 2000 and market prices dictated that a mixture of British and imported beef would be required. Consequently, this year 31 per cent. of beef (571 tonnes) has been sourced from the UK.

In the case of pork and lamb, since January 2000, 84 per cent. of all pork supplied (1,750 tonnes and 4 per cent. of all lamb supplied (17 tonnes) was sourced from the UK.

We continue to work in partnership with '3663' to explore ways to increase the proportion of British meat that is supplied to our armed forces. Both the Ministry and '3663' remain committed to buying meat from UK sources wherever they are competitive.

Mr. Tyler

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will instruct procurement officers responsible for the supply of meat to British service personnel stationed in the Falkland Islands to buy exclusively from the EU-approved abattoir on the islands. [10800]

Dr. Moonie

The Ministry of Defence has a contract for food supply with '3663' formerly trading as Booker Foodservice. The contract includes responsibility for the procurement of all commodities including meat and offal. The role of the Ministry of Defence's Defence Catering Group (DCG) is to work with the contractor to ensure that meat supplied to UK armed forces is procured from reputable sources and offers best value for money. This partnering approach extends to DCG making recommendations to '3663' regarding new sources of supply and supplementing '3663's own sourcing and quality assurance activities. The DCG is monitoring the development of the fledgling meat industry in the Falkland Islands and continues to assess the volumes of production, product availability and the quality standard of meat from the limited range of products available from the abattoir recently constructed to EU standards. It is understood that, for the foreseeable future, the output of the abattoir will be limited to lamb only. Any decision to procure meat from this particular facility to feed British service personnel in the Falkland Islands will ultimately rest with '3663' who will ensure that our stringent quality requirements are met or exceeded.

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