MLC chief calls for supply chain change to reflect discerning consumer demands Mike Ingham Inefficiency in the supply chain and inconsistent product quality are serious weaknesses in the British meat industry, says the new Meat and Livestock Commission chairman. Peter Barr said these problems must be rectified quickly if the sector is to solve the new problems posed by consumers' adverse reactions to recent livestock disease crises and food safety scares. Barr, whose background is the meat processing and product manufacturing industry, offered this blunt assessment of the sector's structure and prospects when presenting the British Meat Awards on Wednesday night. Barr's candid admission of an urgent need for "structural change in the supply chain" and "improvement in industry and farming practice" startled some in the audience. Similar sentiments are often expressed privately by critics of the British meat chain who claim traditional producers and slaughterers fail to comprehend changes needed as consumers become more discerning and demand moves away from the crude commodity. Yet Barr added: "On the positive side, meat consumption is part of our social culture and remains robust." Barr cited as evidence of the industry trying to adapt the record number of entries to the competition this year. Nearly 300 companies entered almost 900 products. Overall winner Midland Meat Packers got the product of excellence award for its Fred Baker Beef Casserole, a retail cook-to-eat offering, and also succeeded with a pork loin slices product. It is a traditional company moving fast into added value. An award for lamb processor Lloyd Maunder similarly illustrated how a familiar name from the old-style commodity sector could adapt to the new market conditions. Other awards went to The Sandwich Factory, Novus Foods, Arfon Meat Company, Kettleby Foods, Bartholdi, Makro and Loxtons. {{NEWS }}