Vion Food Group, the Netherlands-based meat supplier, has had its export licence outside of the EU suspended by the country’s food standards regulator.

The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) said it did not comment on specific cases when contacted for comment by Just Food.

Vion Food Group, meanwhile, said the “temporary” export suspension applies to its processing plant at its headquarters in the town of Boxtel applied by the NVWA on 3 July.

“We are very surprised by this,” the pork and beef processor said in a statement provided to Just Food.

The De Groene Weg and Goldbeef meat brand owner added: “On 27 June, the NVWA carried out a regular inspection at Vion Boxtel. The NVWA made some comments here about issues they observed at that time.

“We immediately took adequate measures in response, both during the inspection and afterwards, to correct the noted issues and prevent repetition. We are therefore surprised that NVWA still decided to impose a temporary suspension and we immediately entered into discussions with NVWA about this.”

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While the NVWA said it does not comment on cases specifically, the food safety body did provide a statement in “general” terms.

“The NVWA supervises companies in accordance with EU legislation. We also supervise any requirements demanded by third countries. If companies do not meet these requirements, the NVWA can take various measures,” it said.

“One of these measures is to suspend the company from exporting to (a number of) third countries. It is then up to this company to present a plan that demonstrates and shows that the shortcomings we found are under control. It is up to the NVWA to carefully assess this plan.”

Vion, which also supplies the plant-based meat-alternative brand Me-at, said the company “works hard every day to meet all standards at all times”.

It added in the statement: “If necessary, Vion Boxtel immediately takes corrective measures and thus guarantees the quality of its products and animal welfare.”

Led by CEO Ronald Lotgerink, Vion Food Group supplies the retail and foodservice channels, along with B2B customers.

The business recently announced a new strategic direction by exiting the German market to focus on the Benelux countries.

Vion Food Group said in June it planned to divest its remaining operations in Germany after already closing a site and selling three others.

It explained: “To accelerate its strategy of establishing sustainable integrated chains in times of changing markets and strong competition from non-EU markets, Vion has taken the decision to focus on production and sourcing in the Benelux region.”

Lotgerink added: “To achieve our ambitious goal of becoming the most sustainable meat company in Europe, we need to focus. We see a clear opportunity to improve our position by using our robust heritage with farmers and established networks.”