"Egypt is a market we would really like to access again," confirmed Rob Gillam, ex-president of the Pastoralists and Graziers Association of Western Australia. "Expanding economies and rising affluence create an attractive situation for us," he added.
Egypt’s increasing per capita meat consumption of 25kg/year is slightly above the North African average and well above the average for net food importing developing countries of 17.8 kg/year per capita, according to 2009 data from the Food & Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. GDP grew 9.5% between 2011 and 2012, according to World Bank data, with forecasts for a similar trajectory this year.
Boxed meat exports to Egypt in 2013 from Australia remain relatively modest – a total 7,314 shipped weight tonnes (swt) of mainly beef and veal, mutton and offal, according to Australian Meat and Livestock Association (MLA) data. However, there are several activities under way by the association to promote Australian meat to Egyptians. The MLA organised a chefs’ competition at hospitality expo HACE Egypt, staged in Cairo in February this year, and conducts regular cooking demonstrations at a boutique retailer for chefs and hoteliers. The MLA’s Middle East Corporate Chef Tarek Ibrahim also hosts a television programme on the Fatafeat network called ‘100 Lahma’ (100 Meat).
Australian livestock exporters, meanwhile, are keen to resume trade with Egypt. Live exports were suspended in 2013 following claims of animal cruelty in Egyptian abattoirs, documented in video footage. No Australian cattle or sheep were exported to Egypt in 2013, nor in the first months of 2014 as a result. This represents a significant drop from the 32,800 head that were exported to Egypt in 2012 and a massive drop from 2000 figures, when Australia exported 207,551 live cattle and 348,839 sheep to Egypt, according to MLA data.
The resumption of trade now depends on a green light from authorities over compliance with Australia’s animal protection protocol Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS). "Egypt was a closed loop market before ESCAS, but it will not be reopened until ESCAS requirements have now been fulfilled," said Gillam.