Mexico’s nascent organic meat sector could be lifted by EU deal

By Keith Nuthall and Elizabeth Machuca, in Mexico City

- Last updated on GMT

Pedro Parada: Organic farmers undercut by firms who "unethically" produce meat
Pedro Parada: Organic farmers undercut by firms who "unethically" produce meat

Related tags: Organic meat, Organic food, Eu, Beef, Lamb, Livestock, Pork, Poultry

The EU and Mexico have launched talks to deepen their trading relationship by negotiating a bilateral trade agreement on organic products. Such a deal could give a much needed shot-in-the-arm for the Mexican organic meat segment.

Pedro Parada, a pioneer within the Mexico organic meat sector, whose company La Rumorosa is located in the coastal state of Veracruz, said there was an “increasing interest from other countries in Mexican ‘green’ production​”. However, despite organic food representing “a long-term investment for public health within the country​”, local organic meat farmers are still at a disadvantage against conventional ones who can quickly and “unethically​” produce “tonnes of meat with the help of chemicals to fatten up the livestock​”, Parada told GlobalMeatNews.

He said the Mexican organic food market was still underdeveloped, due to a lack of incentives and information on the subject. La Rumorosa started out in 2010 against a background of reports about significant imports of low-quality meat into Mexico. “Getting started was hard work – especially in the matter of regulations,​” said Parada.

Organic problems

Another successful producer is CORM – Carnes Orgánicas de México (Mexican Organic Meats), located in the northern state of Nuevo León. The company has two farms certified by food certification organisation Agricert as “controlled environmental units​” based on a sustainable farming method, which allows livestock to coexist with local fauna.

However, while CORM and La Rumorosa are still trading successfully, José M González, who used to administrate an organic farm called El Macayo in the southern state of Chiapas, said there had been real problems, noting that businesses that once had a “promising future​” had disappeared. When asked about the causes behind this, he declined to comment.

For such producers, a European Commission note that the deal will try to harmonise EU and Mexican control of organic foodstuffs​, being “based on the recognition of each other’s production rules and controls systems as equivalent…​”, could be useful. An agreement would also establish consultation systems, so that EU and Mexico organic regulators could undertake technical dialogue and cooperation “to the benefit of producers and consumers of organic products​”, said the note.

Market size ambiguity

Commenting, EU agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan said: “The European organic sector continues to be one of our most dynamic production sectors and Mexico has great potential in developing opportunities for organic farmers and businesses.” ​Looking ahead, in the coming months EU and Mexican organic regulators and industry organisations will conduct reciprocal on-the-spot visits to gather information on their respective organic systems. EU sales of organic products account for 40% of the world market, second to the USA’s 43%. EU organic product sales (or food and non-food products) have grown by more than 6% a year, generating €22.2 billion in 2013 sales, said the Commission.

It is not clear how large the Mexican organic sector is, however. To date, the Mexican Meat Council (Comecarne – Consejo Mexicano de la Carne) has no solid information. Ivonne Rosado, a spokesperson for the council, said there was no database of organic producers nor were there figures or estimates on the amounts of “green meat​” produced within the country every year.

Related topics: Meat

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