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Australian meat import up 40%.

By Zia Khan/Staff Reporter Qatar's meat import from Australia has witnessed a 40% jump in 2012 compared to the average for previous five years owing to a rapid increase in population and safety concerns about livestock products from elsewhere in the world.

A remarkable expansion of the hotel and food service industries has also contributed in lifting red meat import from one of world's largest exporting countries to 10,821 tonnes swt (shipped weight tonnes) during the year with a 28 % increase from 2011.

This makes the country the fourth largest importer from Australia in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region despite a relatively small population.

Australian red meat exports to the Mena region totalled 151,290 tonnes in 2012.

Beef exports to Qatar totalled 2,118 tonnes, lamb 5,933 tonnes, mutton 2,528 tonnes and offal (eatable internal organs of an animal like liver and heart) 56 tonnes in 2012.

The total value of Australian red meat exports reached A$57mn.

According to figures compiled by Widam, formerly known as Mawashi - a company that oversees the imports of livestock -- two-thirds of Qatar meat basket is filled by products from Australia.

Meat is also imported from other countries like India, Pakistan, Somalia, New Zealand, Egypt and Syria.

The continued expansion in the number of five star hotels and the growing food service industry mean that Qatar is an important destination for Australian chilled beef.

Strong economic growth forecasts (5% and above) for the next five years combined with already high levels of wealth and stable governance suggest the trend would continue for another five years at least.

Qatar is a net food-importing country and meets more than 90% of its requirements through imports.

Import of foodstuff in Qatar is expected to increase 153% to $3.3bn in the next 10 years due to increasing population growth, according to data compiled by the Qatar National Food Security Programme (QNFSP).

The Meat and Livestock Australia Limited (MLA) - a company responsible for the marketing of livestock - said it hopes to benefit from an expected hotel industry boom in Qatar in the run-up to World Cup soccer in 2022.

According to the national statistics authorities, the net population of Qatar is likely to reach 2.5mn in next five years on the back of a huge influx of migrant workers in the construction industry mainly from Asia and Africa.

It means more vibrant retail sectors because of increase in consumptions. "This is where an opportunity lies for us," explained an official from MLA, who visited Qatar to study the prospects of opening an office here. The company's regional office is currently based in Dubai. The MLA delivers marketing and research programmes for Australia's cattle, sheep and goat producers.

It has over 47,500 livestock producer-members who have stakeholder entitlements in the company.

But for being a market leader, the official added, the MLA has invented what he described as a state-of-the-art mechanism to make sure what gets into the stomach of the consumer is 100% hygienic meat free of any contamination.

"We always deliver the best product," he said as a horse meat scandal in Europe put question mark on the integrity of some of market leaders in the industry, prompting worries among consumers about what they eat.

The National Livestock Identification System (NLIS), he added, is Australia's system for identification and traceability of animals.

After its introduction in 1999, it has expanded to enable cattle, sheep and goats to be traced from property of birth to slaughter for biosecurity, meat safety, product integrity and market access.

Gulf Times Newspaper 2013

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Publication:Gulf Times (Doha, Qatar)
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Mar 30, 2013
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