MANX meat should be back on the shelves at Tesco within a fortnight, Agriculture Minister Phil Gawne believes.
Mr Gawne was speaking after returning from urgent talks in London with Tesco’s technical director that were called after the retail giant stopped stocking Manx meat.
Tesco’s decision had followed inspection of the island’s Meat Plant that had raised concerns about auditing standards and the physical state of the building.
This resulted in fears for the future of the government-owned Meat Plant if it were to lose the Tesco contract.
But Mr Gawne said the meeting in London had been constructive.
He said: ‘It was a good meeting and there were a few things that Tesco said that were quite encouraging.
‘They recognised that the island is in a unique situation compared to most of the other areas where they operate and the recognise that it’s crucial for Manx agriculture and Manx food production that they do a lot more than they would normally to look after the island’s meat suppliers.’
Mr Gawne said that most of the areas of concern flagged up by Tesco had already been addressed and upgraded equipment had been ordered. Once that arrives in a week or two, the Meat Plant should be able to start supplying Tesco again, he said.
The Minister said that the retailer did not have any major issues about the state of the building itself, but he added that the refurbishment of the facility, which was built in 1995, needed to be carried out in the not too distant future.
He has said it might be time to look at building a smaller purpose-built plant better suited to the industry’s current needs.
He explained that one area of concern for Tesco had been the fact that one manager, Kewin Kerruish, now combined the three roles of managing director, technical director and head of quality assurance, but that the intention was for the Meat Plant to look at recruiting a new quality assurance manager.
Ahead of Monday’s meeting, Tesco confirmed: ‘We are currently working with the supplier to resolve outstanding issues.’
Prices of processing at the Tromode abattoir are being blamed for growing numbers of livestock being exported for slaughter.
The Faststock Marketing Association has warned that the Meat Plant could close altogether without government investment. And bosses at Shoprite, which continues to stock Manx meat, says that a viable solution needs to be found. It is understand that between them, the contracts with Tesco and Shoprite account for 70 per cent to 80 per cent of the Meat Plant’s output.
FMA director Pentti Christian insists that there are no issues about food hygiene and animal welfare standards.
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Weather for Isle of Man
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 7 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: South
Temperature: 10 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 22 mph
Wind direction: South west