The re-opening of the Saudi market was announced during a visit on October 14 by prime minister Manuel Valls, Reuters reported. It came as French officials put renewed emphasis on opening more export markets as a way of addressing low prices, leading to farmer protests earlier this year.
France is the EU’s largest agricultural economy and also its biggest cattle producer, but currently exports beef almost entirely within the EU.
Earlier this year, it obtained “negligible risk” status for BSE from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), indicating the last infected native animal was born more than 11 years ago. France has since secured the opening of beef trade with Singapore, Vietnam and South Africa.
French beef meat
Saudi Arabia has authorised French beef meat from animals of less than 30 months, following approval in principle it gave a year ago for EU beef. France aims to obtain access for meat from older animals after further talks, the farm ministry said.
Saudi beef imports are worth about $500 million a year, according to the French agriculture department. SVA Jean Rozé, one of more than 30 French firms now certified to export beef to Saudi Arabia, hopes to export 3,000 tonnes a year there, Marc Feunteun, the company’s export manager, told Reuters.
Major meat importers to the Saudi market include India and Australia.