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Meat exporters from Pakistan unanimously agree that the livestock loss in Australian bush fires opens up a significant export potential for Pakistanin the Middle East, where Pakistan exports majority of its bovine production.

However, it is not as simple asit sounds. As discussed in this space earlier this week,Pakistan exports are concentrated in in carcass category whereas Australia’s product offering primarily comprises of boneless meat. So can Pakistan fill this gap by converting its carcass exports into boneless meat? Apparently not.

Pakistan’s meat industry is marred by a lot of hurdles. Although industry experts claim that demand for Pakistan’s meat will increase in global markets in the event of the likely decrease in Australia’s trade, they maintain that Pakistan cannot match the quality provided by Australia.

Kamran Khalili, the CEO of Al-Shaheer Foods, believes that the utility of products offered by Australia and that by Pakistan are vastly different.Hence Pakistan cannot simply replace the likely gap created by Australian suppliers to the Middle East. It does not help that the target audience also differs.So while what Pakistan produces maybe of good quality for South Asian buyers, it cannot fill the gap created in the premium segment by the dent in Australian livestock supply.

Zia Banday, meat exporter from Hilal Meat Pvt Ltd agrees with the assessment that Pakistan’s bovine meat is not a premium quality meat and hence does not enjoy premium prices. “Pakistan’s bovine meat is not consumed by 5-start hotels,” says Zia. Talking to BR Research, he said that if Pakistan’s boneless meat is sold for AED35 per kilogram in the UAE, then Australian is sold for AED 45-50, whereas New Zealand’s and Dutch cuts are north of AED 60 to even AED100 per kilogram

 

Secondly, the meat yield obtained from the local livestock is incomparable to that obtained froman Australian breed.Australians specifically rear beef and/or fattening breed for the sole purpose of maximizing beef yield. In contrast, Pakistan does not have meat specific breeds, and we essentially export meat obtained from milking animals.

This leaves little incentive for meat processors to export in boneless category instead of exporting carcasses. Nasib Ahmed Saifi, the CEO of Anis Associates (Pvt) Limited and Chairman of All Pakistan Meat Exporters and Processors Association (APMEPA), explains that the conversion of a carcass into boneless meat comes at an additional cost of 40 percent which meat processors are unable to cover in the international market.

Even if Pakistan starts fixing its livestock problem it will take at least 5-7 years to come up to a level where they can meet basic quality to compete with boneless meat of competing countries. Except that the trends seems to be in the reverse at the moment, no thanks to animal smuggling and to premature slaughtering of female calves before it completes her calving cycle, leading to serious livestock shortage risks ahead.