KEY opportunities for Australian beef are being presented by changing demographics in the Middle East, Meat and Livestock Australia’s business manager for the region Nick Meara has reported.
“The relatively young, culturally-diverse population is travelling a lot, being educated in Europe, the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia and as this happens they are exposed to different palates,” he said.
“They want that when they come home, and lot of that is beef, so as a result QSR (quick service restaurants) and casual dining hamburger chains are coming in.”
Investment in cold chain infrastructure to handle fresher, higher value product, along with stablisation in oil prices bringing wealth in were also presenting opportunities, Mr Meara said.
Speaking at a global markets forum at Beef Australia in Rockhampton recently, Mr Meara said the Middle East comprised a large number of diverse countries that were impacted by regional conflict, global oil price fluctuations and challenging market access conditions.
It’s made up of 19 countries and some have a population of over 80m.
Australia represents 4 per cent of the beef market here.
“Chicken is our main competitor. Frozen from Brazil, it retails in their supermarkets for $4 a kilogram,” Mr Meara said.
“Fish is the second largest protein category, with beef third and lamb fourth.
“Competition is extreme - we are the third largest exporter to the region behind Brazil and India.
“We are 140pc more expensive than Indian buffalo and 65pc more expensive than Brazilian beef.
“We have to target the upper market - chilled and grainfed to the high-end consumer in retail and food service.”
Beef exporter Lachie Hart said when his business, Stockyard Beef, first went to the Middle East it was a tenderloin market with the focus on the high-end restaurant trade.
“In the early 2000s most of the beef we exported was going to Japan and we quickly realised there was an opportunity to look at other markets, on a parts basis, that would pay premiums,” he said.
The tenderloin-only trade, however, was not sustainable.
“We are a demanufacturing industry, we have to find homes for all pieces. If you don’t do that successfully you come out without balance. We can sell tenderloins all day but there’s more to find markets for,” he said.
“So we’ve developed the Middle Eastern market, adding more cuts to the portfolio to build retail markets as well.
“Today, we are getting good carcase balance there - loin cuts going to high end restaurants and table cuts and barbecue cuts to retail outlets.”
Asked how Stockyard enters new markets, Mr Hart said it all came down to relationships.
“Our relationship in the Middle East was a chef working in the Shangri La chain in Singapore who transferred to a hotel chain in Dubai and was a fan of our product,” he said.
“We had to quickly work out how we could get it there and get a cold chain distributor in place.
“We made a lot of mistakes along the way and that development took ten years to become an effective market for us today.”
The story Adventurous young present opportunities for Aussie beef in Middle East first appeared on Farm Online.