The International Meat Trade Association

1_wooly ewes 3_mountains 4_beef inspection container port 1 5_cows 7_roast 7_pig_wattpublishing 8_chicken_martin_de_vitte

DEFRA - Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

In terms of the meat trade Defra are responsible for veterinary control of imports relating to animal health, negotiating veterinary export certification with non-EU countries and food labelling. Defra officials attend the EU Management Committees which set export refunds and rules for quotas.

There is information available on Defra's web site about the animal and public health import and export requirements for all animal products. Not meeting the animal health requirements can result in your product being seized and re-exported or destroyed at the expense of the importer. For details of the import and export regulations click here.

 role: maintaining contacts with the Minister and departmental officials to influence policy; identifying priority export markets with UK Export Certification Partnership (Red meat) and Export Certification Users Group (Poultry Meat).

RPA - Rural Payments Agency

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) was established in 2001 as an Executive Agency of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
Its role is to administer farm payments, but is also responsible for the administration of:

  • Import licences
  • Beef  labelling

IMTA’s role: attending meetings and maintaining regular contact to monitor developments and assist IMTA members with day to day problems.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) implement the EU Customs legislation and has developed numerous tools that might be of use for Importers and Exporters.  

Please, find HMRC guides and tools for Importers and Exporters in the following links:

IMTA maintains contact with HMRC Head office and the Customs Hub in relation to the First Come First Served quotas and issues affecting the clearance of products into the UK.

Official Journal of the European Union (EUR-Lex)

Official Journal of the European Union (EUR-Lex)provides free access to European Union law and other documents considered to be public. The website is available in 23 official languages.

The database is updated daily and every year around 12 000 documents are added. The Official Journal is the principal source of EUR-Lex content and it is published in the early morning after every working day.

IMTA daily monitors the new laws which affect the meat sector.

FSA - Food Standards Agency

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is an independent government department responsible for food safety and hygiene across the UK.
Amongst the FSA’s responsibilities that concern the meat importers/exporters:

  • Food produced in the UK is safe to eat
  • Public health aspects of meat imports
  • Approval of meat plants for export to specific non-EU countries
  • Consumers have the information and understanding they need to make informed
  • choices about where and what they eat

Click here to learn more about the FSA guidance on rules for importers of food.

IMTA’s role: establishing contacts with relevant sections of the FSA to ensure policies are implemented efficiently.

European Livestock and Meat Trading Union (UECBV)

The European Livestock and Meat Trading Union (UECBV), founded in 1952, is the mouthpiece of national federations representing livestock markets, livestock traders (cattle, horses, sheep, pigs) and meat traders (beef, horsemeat, sheepmeat, pigmeat), slaughterhouses, cutting plants and meat preparation plants.

In total, some 20,000 firms of all sizes are represented within the UECBV through its national member federations.

The UECBV pursues the following objectives:

  • to represent and to defend livestock and meat trade, and livestock and meat industry;
  • to promote Community trade and international trade;
  • to deepen the internal market;
  • to combat distortions of competition.

Adapted from UECBV on 31/7/2012

IMTA is a member of UECBV and they communicate on a daily basis.
IMTA regularly attends meetings and IMTA’s President is on the Board and Chairs the Import Working Group.

Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI)

Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI) of the EU Commission is responsible for the implementation of agriculture and rural development policy.  

It is made up of 13 Directorates dealing with all aspects of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) including farm support, market measures, quality policy, legal matters, as well as international relations relating to agriculture.

DG Agri is involved in regulating the meat trade with non-EU countries through setting EU-wide policies for:

  • Issuing of import and export licences
  • Common customs tariffs
  • Import tariff quotas governed by a system of import licences
  • Export refunds
  • Safeguard measures
  • Trade agreements with non-EU countries
  • Beef labeling

Adapted from DG Agri on 31/7/2012

IMTA’s role is to maintain direct contact with those drafting EU policy and co-ordinating this with Defra officials. IMTA sits on the Sheep Advisory Committee.

Directorate-General for Health and Consumer Protection (DG Sante)

One of the main aims of DG Health and Consumer Protection (DG Sante) is to ensure Europe's food is safe and wholesome. This involves the development of legislation in fields such as:

  • Effective control systems and evaluation of compliance with EU standards in the food safety and quality, including regular veterinary audits of non-EU countries
  • International relations with third countries and international organisations concerning food safety, animal and plant health etc.

Veterinary Border Controls

The veterinary border control is seen as a key factor to ensure that the animals and products of animal origin entering the European Union are safe and meet the specific import conditions laid down in the Community legislation.

The imported live animals and products of animal origin present the highest level of risks as they can transmit serious human and animal diseases. Therefore it is necessary to subject them to specific controls at their point of entry, so called veterinary border inspection ports (BIPs).

A consignment of live animals or product of animal origin can only enter into the EU, if it has satisfactorily undergone the specific checks and a Common Veterinary Entry Document (CVED) is issued.

More information on BIPs is provided here.

General guidance for food importers is summarized in these guideline documents:

Adapted from DG Sante on 31/7/2012

IMTA’s role is to maintain direct contact with EU officials to discuss forthcoming policies and issues affecting access for imported meat. IMTA sits on the steering group on review of veterinary import controls.

Commission's Taxation and Customs Union Directorate-General (DG Taxud)

Commission's Taxation and Customs Union Directorate-General (DG Taxud) and member countries customs are authorities involved in the implementation and enforcement of Community legislation relating to external trade, for customs duties and commercial policy measures, but also as regards consumer protection and agricultural controls.

Some of the control areas in which customs authorities have a control responsibility are:

  • Controls of the nature and the amounts of duties applicable according to the correct description of commodity code, origin and customs value of goods
  • Controls for security, safety and public health requirements
  • Controls on compliance with Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) rules
  • First Come First Served Quotas

What is the Common Customs Tariff?

Since the completion of the internal market, goods can circulate freely between Member States. The 'Common Customs Tariff' (CCT) therefore applies to the import and export of goods across the external borders of the EU.

The tariff is common to all EU members and goods are classified according to the combined nomenclature. Rates vary according to whether the product is being imported under a concessionary quota or being imported at full duty.

A useful site in the DG trade section of the EU Commission – Export Helpdesk – set up for, in particular, developing countries accessing the EU market. Of general use it allows traders to check the options of duty rates available for a particular product.

The DG Taxud site gives details of the various customs procedures.

Adapted from DG Taxud on 31/7/2012

Business Link

Business Link is Government's online resource for businesses. It contains essential information, support and services for businesses of all sizes and stages of development.

Business Link provides up-to-date and practical guidance on regulations and to access government services. It also has a number of useful online tools, calculators, and best practice case studies and provides access to funding options, as well as wider support.

User-friendly information for International Trading Businesses is included in this section of the website:

Adapted from Business Link on 31/7/2012

National Association of Catering Butchers (NACB)

The National Association of Catering Butchers (NACB) was formed in 1983 to raise the standard of the catering butchery in the UK.
Since that time a number of standards have been developed.

The NACB is an approved body with its own specifically designed standards. Its objective is to ensure that the food supplied is safe, the best quality with standards relevant to the operation of a catering butcher.

Purchasing meat and meat products from an approved NACB supplier provides a number of assurances and standards. NACB members must be accredited under the NACB standards scheme, which comprises three levels and is specifically designed with the operation of catering butchers in mind, or an equivalent (BRC accreditation or EU approval). This reduces the risk of prosecution for breaking hygiene regulations and failing to apply due diligence by not purchasing meat and meat products from a reputable source.

Adapted from NACB on 31/7/2012

IMTA’s role: Administration of the NACB Secretariat.

International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)

Policy advocacy is a major part of the work of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). Everything else they do is also devoted to promoting international trade and investment. ICC offers commercial arbitration service and has developed a large array of voluntary rules, guidelines, and codes –  sometimes referred to as ‘trade tools’ – which facilitate cross-border transactions and help spread best practice among companies. An example is ICC’s Incoterms® rules which are accepted as the global standard for the interpretation of the most common terms used in contracts for the international sale of goods.

Adapted from ICC on 31/7/2012

Incoterms form part of IMTA’s Terms of Trade.

Action Fraud

If you encounter any kind of fraudulent activity such as meat scams we would encourage members to report this to Action Fraud under the name ‘distribution fraud’.
You can report in on 0300 123 2040 or online at the ActionFraud website

AHDB Beef and Lamb

AHDB Beef & Lamb is the organisation for beef and lamb levy payers in England.

They exist to enhance the profitability and sustainability of the English beef and lamb sector.


AHDB Pork is focused on enhancing the competitiveness, efficiency and profitability of pig levy payers in England and driving demand for Red Tractor pork and pig meat products in Britain and globally. AHDB Pork is a division of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board.