Saudi Arabia to resume Pakistan poultry imports
A team from Saudi Arabia's Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) met officials from Pakistan's Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MNFSR) after inspecting a number of poultry farms and research institutes in the country.
“[The] standard of poultry facilities in Pakistan is as good as in any European country,” the SFDA reported in the press.
Bird flu ban
Saudi Arabia banned imports of poultry products from Pakistan in 2005, in an attempt to keep bird flu from spreading to home turf.
However, the World Health Organisation declared Pakistan free from bird flu in September 2008, and previous reports suggested Saudi authorities had lifted the ban in 2009; although to date Saudi Arabia has still not resumed imports.
Pakistan has spent more than Rs1.1bn (US$11m) since 2005 on a national programme for the control and prevention of avian influenza, according to Seerat Asghar, secretary for national food security.
Asghar expressed hope that Saudi companies would resume their imports of poultry products from Pakistan soon, following the successful visit.
Saudi’s poultry market has experienced high volatility over recent years, and has seen major price rises as domestic producers have struggled to meet demand.
In October of 2012, a spontaneous social media campaign in the Kingdom encouraged consumers to “Let It Rot” and boycott chicken purchases in protest to high prices. The Saudi government responded by banning the export of poultry in a bid to reduce the cost of chicken.
Pakistan’s poultry industry, meanwhile, has been hit hard in 2013 by high feed costs while market forces have prevented any rise in chicken prices.
Last year is commonly believed to have been the country’s worst for 50 years, with the sale price of chicken remaining at Rs15 (US$0.14) below the cost of production – resulting in a Rs30bn (US$280m) total loss to Pakistan’s poultry industry, according to The Nation.