Beef barons can claim bungs for exporting animal produce under the European Union (EU) Common Agricultural Policy. The system of export credits subsidises the profits of the meat industry.
There are huge differences in how much they can grab.
It is more profitable to export a dead carcass than a live animal. And it is more profitable to export a dead animal that is processed than one that is simply butchered.
There is also a sliding scale of subsidies based on how and where you export your dead animal.
So exporters receive £6.72 per 100 kilo in subsidy to export processed beef to what the EU describes as the third world if there is 90 percent meat in the product. This drops to £5.94 if there is 80 percent meat in the product.
This is a direct incentive to lie about the amount of meat in your product. That’s why boxes claiming to be good quality beef for export have in fact been full of low-grade beef or “trimmings”.
Others have been lighter than they should have been or have carried bogus stamps.
At every stage—de-boning, storage and export—there’s a subsidy to be picked up and a profit to be made.
And the pressure is growing on producers to export more “beef”. The EU cut subsidies for beef by 33 percent in April last year. Firms will try and bulk up the “beef” they export in order to make up for this cut.