Turkey's meat traders raise demand for cattle all over the world

Published 18.10.2010 00:22

Deficits in meat and livestock reserves in Turkey have resulted in the importation of meat from countries with which almost no business has been conducted before.

The lucrative business in red meat prodded Turkish traders to look for bargain deals in other countries after the government lifted the ban on the import of livestock and red meat products in a bid to stabilize meat prices in the domestic market. According to data from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Turkish merchants began to develop interest in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Mongolia, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia from which a massive amount of livestock and meat are intended to be imported. A good number of Turkish traders are also looking into other countries such as Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Russia, Bulgaria, Moldova and Belarus for meat imports. It was reported that even Baltic countries have been looked at as an important source of meat imports for Turkey. As of today some 120,000 Turkish merchants are seeking to play a role in meat importation activities after being granted permission to import livestock and meat due to the massive increase in domestic meat prices. Most of these traders visited the countries with which livestock and meat importation agreements were signed.
With the Eid-al Adha (Kurban festivities) approaching, the rise in meat prices is also forcing a good number of people to have cattle and livestock slaughtered for the Feast of the Sacrifice in countries such as Syria, Iraq, Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Georgia, where meat prices are lower. Therefore, these countries have turned into attractive centers for animal slaughtering. Turkey must buy 19K tons of meat from Europe Due to the huge spike in meat prices in Turkey, the government had to approve free importation of livestock for the first time after a 12-year ban. Despite pressure applied by the European Union, Turkey had refused to import meat since1998, citing health reasons. The ministry first allowed the government agency called the Meat and Fish Authority to import livestock to mitigate the meat deficit in the market. The agency bought 40,000 head of live cattle from various countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Chile after being granted permission to do so. However when the move failed to stem price increases in the market, the ministry approved free importation of red meat as of Sept. 1. In the past, the government had granted permission for livestock importation on the condition that special dispensation was obtained from the Ministry of Agriculture. However, the government didn't just lift the special dispensation requirement for livestock importation, it approved red meat importation. Thus, Turkey has to fulfill obligations arising from the customs union agreement by which Turkey has to import 19 tons of red meat and three tons of livestock for slaughter from EU member states. Meat prices go through the roof in Hungary

When the issue of importation of three tons of livestock arose, Turkish entrepreneurs first looked into nearby countries in the Balkans such as Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. However the surge in demand in these countries risked increasing meat prices in local markets, triggering restrictions by local authorities to stem price hikes.
Several countries also introduced a special dispensation requirement for their Turkish residents to rent land and conduct farming. According to one assessment done by the Turkish Dairy Breeding Association, the demands of Turkish meat and beef meat producers increased meat prices in Hungary by 100 percent. The Turkish government obliged importers to have the meat cut under the supervision of experts appointed by the ministry. About 200 ministry officials were appointed to oversee meat cutting processes conducted by 123 large meat firms importing red meat with the supervision expenses of these officials covered by the firms. With the permission to import red meat, several firms began to add the US and Canada to their travel lists. The ministry is known for not being in favor of red meat import from either country because of the public's deep skepticism about both countries (with regard to their meat).

Although 13,000–15,000 live cattle were expected to be imported to Turkey, the shortage of supply hovers at around 1 million head. So far, traders have applied for an import license for more than 200,000 cattle from the ministry. Merchants chose animal breeds like Angus, Hereford, Simmental, Charolais, Limousin and Brown Swiss that have higher meat yield than local cattle breeds. Many countries were considered The Meat and Fish Authority also allowed the import of 4,000 cattle as fatlings for slaughtering later when meat prices did not reach a stable level. Countries like Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Norway, Iceland, the US (excluding Texas, Alabama and Washington), Brazil (excluding Parana province), New Zealand, Australia, Uruguay and Argentina were singled out for these fatlings.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs listed the following countries as sources of livestock import as well: Finland, Poland, Greece, Germany (excluding Niethersaschsen and North Rhine-Westphalia), Malta, Italy (excluding the island of Sardinia and provinces of Sicily and Piemonte), Sweden (excluding the provinces of Vastmanland, Halland, Kornoberg, Skane, Jönköping, Kalmar, Blekinge, Östergötland, Vastra Götaland, Varmland, Örebro and Södermanland), Slovakia and Slovenia. Australia, New Zealand and Russia were listed as countries that can export small herds of sheep. Milk producers from the Thrace region made the necessary arrangements for importing 15,000 sheep from Australia and New Zealand. Some Turkish firms are trying to import small herds from Russia and Bulgaria, which have a high yield. The greatest interest is in Romanov sheep, which breed three to four times a year. Bulgaria, Romania and Moldova are among the countries visited most frequently by those who raise small herds. The increase in the cattle trade also raised the demand for logistics and cargo space. While Turkish animal breeders set up connections with ship owners from the US, England and Australia to import cattle to Turkey, small herds are imported on special cargo planes.

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