World Meat Congress: supply chain must change

11 October, 2010

Despite the economic woes of 2008, which saw a downturn in the consumption of meat, 2010 has not been as bad as it might have been, according to leading market watcher Gira.

Speaking at the World Meat Congress, Richard Brown, director with the independent analyst firm, said it remained a time of real uncertainty and doubt, but said both Brazil and the US were in the strongest position moving forward, with great potential and spare capacity.

However, he anticipated another two to three years of troubled times for those involved in the European markets.

Meat consumption is expected to rise by 40m tonnes by 2020, although the bulk of that increase will be in poultry meat, Brown told delegates.

China remains a major mystery he added: “China is the big question for us all to face. How much will they eat, and where will it come from?” However, he added there had been serious investment in aquaculture in the Asian area, which could have an impact and limit the extent for growth in meat.

While Brazil had plenty of potential, he warned there remained “a lot of consumer and retailer issues for Brazilian imports”, which the country needed to answer in a “robust” way.

Russia remains an important market for any meat importer, but Brown warned that industry was unlikely to see the peaks achieved in 2008 again. “Russia will not be importing as much poultry and pigmeat, but they will still need to buy in significant quantities of beef.”

He also pointed to the recent merger activity in the meat sector. “We’ve seen a lot of MA activity, mainly out of Brazil, and all of us need to think about the impact of that activity. However, it is difficult to see that there will be the concentration in the meat industry that will allow the companies to exert their power like the big seed companies and others. They’re unlikely to ever have that satisfaction.”

He also warned that global trade needed to shift from simple commodity to more complex relationships in which suppliers met the requirements of the end-market retailers.

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