Iran looks to keep growth rate of meat industry

By Vladislav Vorotnikov

- Last updated on GMT

The Iranian government is working to maintain the pace of growth in the poultry and red meat industry
The Iranian government is working to maintain the pace of growth in the poultry and red meat industry

Related tags Red meat Agriculture Beef Poultry

Over the past three years Iran has managed to increase production of table poultry and red meat by 20% to reach an overall figure of 820,000 tonnes (t) of red meat and 2.2 million t of poultry. 

However, according to Iranian officials, maintaining of the current pace of growth will require major investment in improving veterinary security and feed supply.

The country has made a real breakthrough in terms of developing the agriculture and meat industries during the three-year presidency of Hassan Rouhani, improving many elements of production, according to statistical data presented at a press conference on 26 August by the assistant to the minister of agriculture Jihad Shahrukh Ramezan-Nejad.

However, the industry still faces serious challenges. As Ahmed Moqaddasi, head of the Guild Association of Livestock Breeders, explained, Iran imports 100,000t of red meat annually, while the overall demand stands at 880,000t. As a result, domestic suppliers suffer from low purchasing prices. Moqaddasi believes the authorities should apply measures to limit imports.

Iran produced 820,000 tonnes of red meat, he said. An estimated 100,000 tonnes bypassed any official statistical data and this, added to the 100,000 tonnes of imports and current production volumes, compounded the oversupply problem.

Self-sufficiency and export needs

At the same time, a recent report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), entitled ‘Capacity building on reducing food losses in the Middle East’, suggests that Iran could become self-sufficient in red meat even without an increase in production capacity, since the country annually loses up to 100,000 of red meat across the supply chain.

This not only brings losses to market participants, but also disrupts statistical data and raises questions over the level of veterinary control.

Meanwhile, Ministry of Agriculture deputy head Jihad Hasan Rohni has suggested that Iran has already reached self-sufficiency in poultry production and any further development for table poultry manufacturers will largely depend on exports. According to him, this year the overall volume of production should be close to 2.2m t, nearly 7% more than in 2015.

Given that local demand is around 2.05m t, this means the country could export more than 100,000t per year. The Ministry of Agriculture has pinned a lot of hope on exports to Russia and other Middle East countries, but achieving this has not yet happened.

Several challenges remain

Last year Iran exported 1.2m head of cattle and 20,000 calves, but this year the situation could change. According to Mehdi Haladg, head of Iran’s Veterinary Agency, the country is facing a growing problem of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). He estimated that the fight against it will require a spend of nearly US$75m as soon as possible.

Several outbreaks of FMD have already been recorded in Iran during 2016 and these could seriously hurt exports of live cattle and small ruminants from the country.

A separate issue is the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) products, since there has been heated debate on this issue in Iran in the past few years. According to former Agriculture Minister Isa Kalantari, the annual import of GM products in the country has reached US$5.5bn in value.

Some estimates suggest that Iran imports up to 90% of all soybeans and most of these products contain genetically modified organisms. However, cultivation of these crops is now allowed within the country. Appealing to the authorities recently, Azad Omrani, a member of the National Association of Agricultural Products urged them not to hurry to approve the cultivation of GM crops, despite some reports that this step could significantly cut imports of feed crops in the country.

Related topics Meat

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