UK meat buyers are to find themselves targeted by the Dutch in a bid to dispel misconceptions about the country’s veal production.

The Dutch Meat Board is conducting a test project to raise awareness and provide information about the veal sector in the Netherlands.

Robert Smith, DMB managing director, said: “Dutch veal has an excellent reputation for quality, but it also suffers from being a highly emotive subject when it comes to welfare.

“Veal production is perceived as not being welfare-friendly and even people in the industry think nothing has changed in the last 20 years, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.”

He said the Dutch veal sector had mainly focused on markets in Germany, Italy and France, but had decided to invest in a marketing communications test project through the DMB to assess the UK market and increase understanding of the industry.

Smith said: “This will be a purely business-to-business exercise, speaking to people in the retail, foodservice and the wholesale sectors.

“There won’t be any promotional or consumer activity, that’s a task for another day. We’re looking to break down the misconceptions of veal production in the trade.”

He said the Dutch veal industry was a heavily specialised sector, with full quality assurance and stringent control from feed through to slaughter.

At present 90% of veal calves were housed in group housing, and the industry would be up to 100% to comply with EU legislation by January 1 2004.

“We’re looking to provide the industry with the information they need to make an informed choice. Dutch veal is a product the Dutch can justly feel proud of.”