Initially seen as saving costs and introducing uniformity over the whole of the UK, the use of VIA in Northern Ireland has produced a stream of complaints from producers who have seen their carcase gradings drop.
NBA director Kim Marie Haywood said yesterday further discussions were needed to review and possibly modify the current pricing grid. Following the introduction of VIA in 27 meat plants in Northern Ireland in March, an independent analysis by the Livestock and Meat Commission has confirmed there has been a huge slippage in conformation classifications when compared 12 months previously when gradings were carried out by inspectors.
From the analysis, the NBA contends that at around 10 per cent of carcases presented are being graded one full conformation class lower.
According to the NBA it has also made it more difficult for finishers, even those with a lifetime's experience in anticipating classification grades, to deliver cattle that hit the buyer's preferred conformation score, or arrange prices.