Iran may restore beef imports after last year’s drop

By Vladislav Vorotnikov

- Last updated on GMT

Increasing domestic production has caused Iran's beef imports to drop
Increasing domestic production has caused Iran's beef imports to drop

Related tags Beef Meat Iran Livestock

Iran saw a threefold drop in beef imports, due to a rise in domestic production, according to a recent report from the country’s government. 

According to official data, the volume of supplies last year dropped from 207,000 tonnes (t) to 68,000t. However, in coming years, imports may rise again, as domestic meat consumption is forecast to increase, due to the cancellation of international sanctions. Also, a number of countries have announced plans to expand exports of meat, including beef, to Iran. 

The report indicated that, in 1392 Iranian year (21.03.13- 20.03.14), the country almost stopped imports of poultry completely. At the same time, domestic manufacturers supplied 76,000t of chicken meat and 70,000t of eggs for export. In addition, last year the country supplied 700,000 head of cattle for export, primarily to the Caucasus and countries of the Middle East. This year the figure reached 420,000 head, reflecting a 20% increase compared to the same period last year. 

In addition, Iran’s Ministry of Agriculture Jihad claimed that 84% of beef imports to the country came from Brazil. The rest came from India and Pakistan. At the end of August, the Iranian authorities cancelled a three-year ban on supplies of beef from Brazilian state Parana. As a result of the restrictions, since 2012 Brazil’s supplies of beef to Iran decreased from 130,550t with a total value of US$688 million to 61,571t at a value of US$274.8m, according to data from the Association of Brazilian Beef Exporters (Abiec). 

Abiec has suggested that the cancellation of the ban could allow the country to restore its position in Iran bringing the volume of supplies back up to 122,000t in the next three to four years. However, local experts doubt this is possible, given the fact that, over the past three years, the country has increased domestic beef production from 780,000t to 900,000t, while consumption has remained at 1 million tonnes. 

Also, Ukraine meat producers have expressed some interest in supplying beef to Iran, even though they would prefer to focus mostly on poultry supplies. According to data from the Ukraine Club of Agricultural Business (UCAB) the average price of imported beef in Iran stands at US$4.23 per kg, while Ukraine last year supplied 15,000t of beef for export at an average price of US$3.41 per kg. This makes export supplies feasible, especially given the forecast decrease in domestic consumption of beef in Ukraine. 

UCAB forecast that, in coming years, Ukraine would launch deliveries of beef and expand supplies of poultry to Iran, despite the fact that the country is close to self-sufficiency on poultry, with a production level of 2.15 million tonnes, and a consumption level of 2.2 million tonnes. However, local experts suggest that domestic consumption of both beef and poultry will rise in line with the population’s purchasing power, following the cancellation of Western sanctions. 

“Small batches of Ukrainian poultry have already been shipped to the country in previous years. This will enable Ukrainian businesses to expand delivery volumes. Launching Ukrainian beef supplies requires relevant veterinary certificate approval. We hope that through joint efforts and coordinated work by the relevant authorities of the countries and participants concerned, this process will take place quickly,”​ said UCAB agricultural market analyst Alina Zharko. 

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