Corn-fed Whole Chicken
Chef Middle East has focused on ‘Centre of the Plate’ offerings during the last 3 years. As a result of this emphasis, Chef Middle East was recognized as International Distributer of the year in 2018 by Certified Angus Beef. It is now expanding upon that success with new launches this year - including French corn-fed whole chicken and breast, whole Peking duck with accompanying products, American Kobe beef and a new Dutch veal program.
Tender Valley Black Angus Beef
This is a high quality marble score 3+ graded grain fed black Angus beef brand from Australia that Food Source International are now offering to select customers in the UAE.
Raised on fertile grazing regions in Australia, Tender Valley Black Angus cattle are carefully selected and delivered a highly refined and tightly guarded staged ration program of cereals and grain products for a minimum of 200 days. Delivering a finished beef product of exquisite, substantially marbled beef – with chefs, restauranteurs, and exclusive private customers the beneficiaries.
With the Middle East required to import much of its fresh produce, you would hope that it would be a painless process that would streamline and simplify the requirements for companies. However, that has not always proven to be the case and with meat it is no different.
Of course it’s not helped with the region being a collection of countries with their own rules and regulations, as Nick Meara, Meat and Livestock Australia international business manager for the Middle East and North Africa, has found.
“The Middle East is a large and diverse market and each country has its challenges in terms of access for exporters. Each country has different documentation and requirements for export processes and shelf life for imported product. It would be ideal if we could get consistency throughout the market and this is something that we are working to support.”
It’s far from the only challenge in the market, with Angus Winterflood, general manager, Food Source International telling us that the main challenge at the moment is “most certainly supply constraints. In a growing global economy competition for meat is as high as it has ever been, with new and emerging markets and world powers competition with the more traditional markets for the same product and production volumes cannot keep up. So as a result we are seeing more volatility in price and greater constraints on supply and lead times for ordering.”
That’s broadly along the same lines as Chef Middle East’s protein category manager John Bruck, who said: “Operational challenges mainly come from transporting temperature-controlled products from Europe and America. Having a supply chain dependent upon regular shipments with a limited shelf life and keeping inventories while supplying the dining establishments before expiry can quickly become an issue. It is quite a challenge to properly forecast and plan our supply with perishable premium products where a mistake can easily cost us a fortune.”
While constraints and difficulties in supply are common, our experts agreed that the supply chain for the meat industry worldwide is in good shape. Winterflood said: “The supply chain for the meat industry is very well established and continuing to improve. Every year we are seeing more and more consolidation of businesses along the supply chain for greater efficiencies. This can be both a good and a bad thing for consumers, as while price, shelf life and overall freshness of the product is often improved for the consumer, sometimes quality and consistency and the uniqueness of product is lost with these changes – particularly with consolidation of businesses on the production and processing side of the meat industry.”
Even from Australia there are reasons to be cheerful with Meara saying that “Australia has been exporting to the region for a long time, and as such our exporters have long established relationships with importers and distributors. In recent years the use of air cargo on passenger lines has increased as we ship fresh chilled product into the market. Work by the airlines in the region to help develop this has been great and we could not do this type of supply without the effort they have put in to improve this.”
Casual or premium?
The future of the meat industry may be under threat from a growing increase in diners going vegetarian or vegan, but there are still a number of trends that make meat a popular choice.
We spoke with two sector experts who had differing views on how the industry will go in the near future.
Nick Meara, Meat and Livestock Australia international business manager for the Middle East and North Africa, said: “In recent years we have seen the growth in casual dining throughout the middle east, firstly in steak house type outlets, then burger restaurants, now we are seeing an interest in more of the low and slow cooking method and smoking of whole muscle cuts like brisket and short rib. We are also seeing the growth of independent establishments with their own take on traditional meat preparation and cooking which is very interesting.”
However, protein category manager at Chef Middle East John Bruck sees things going a different way, with high end outlets still providing a worthwhile experience. He said: “Chefs are looking for unique premium products. They are less afraid of the cost, as long as they can see the value in the offering. The successful operators realize that diners return for quality experiences. This trend is ongoing across many sectors as consumers look for experiences more than traditional gifts to celebrate special occasions.
“The American beef market is growing largely due to the explosion of burger restaurants across the GCC. The loin market is continuing to grow in the hotel sector as American Beef is recognized as the premium affordable meat in the Middle East.”
With potential growth at both ends of the market in the coming years, perhaps these two trends from opposite ends of the spectrum signify a healthy meat industry.