Saudi beef market growing – opportunities for Ireland

The Saudi beef market grew by 9.2% between 2008-2013 to around 150,000 tonnes. Imports of beef accounted for 73% of consumption, according to Michael Hussey in Bord Bia’s Dubai Office.

He also said total sheep meat consumption was 138,000t last year and grew by 3.7% CARG in the previous 5 years.

According to Hussey the growth in consumption is being driven by economic growth, increasing population, the development of modern grocery retail and the growth of “western tastes” as the population travels abroad more often.

The beef distribution chain is also changing, Hussey said.

Organised retail accounts for 53% of volume with Horeca making up 25%. 18% is sold through neighbourhood butchers with the rest coming from private farm sales.

Hussey said with the absence of Brazilian beef, Pakistani and Indian beef dominate and are usually sold as a block of meat at cheaper prices rather than as specific cuts.

He said at the more premium end of the market, Australian beef sets the benchmark in terms of quality and price. In all, 85,000 tonnes of frozen beef was imported last year.

Hussey said Indian beef dominates with almost 70% market share followed by Australia at 23%.

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In total, 21,500t of chilled beef was imported in 2013. Pakistan had almost 40% share, followed by Australia ,at 31%, and New Zealand, at almost 21%.

According to Hussey with the growth of modern hypermarkets and supermarkets, the chilled market is growing at a stronger rate than frozen and offers opportunities for Irish producers of Halal beef.

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