Better access for chilled meat to Middle East

Beef Central, 24/10/2023

Better market access has been gained for Australian chilled meat products headed to the Middle East, after a union of Gulf countries increased the maximum shelf life they would accept on imported vacuum-packed chilled meat and meat products.

Federal agriculture minister Senator Murray Watt said the development follows technological advances made by industry and months of lobbying from the Australian Government.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – a union comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates – has increased the maximum shelf life they will accept on imported beef and buffalo meat to 120 days and sheep and goat meat to 90 days.

Recent advances in the quality of packaging material and the stability of refrigeration equipment in the supply chain have allowed this change to occur, Senator Watt said.

“Not only does this improved market access mean that export by sea is now possible—saving approximately $3/kg of product — but our product can also keep their premium price longer, which means higher profit.

“This one change sees market access improve for chilled meat bound for Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE.

“We will continue working to encourage other countries to adopt increased shelf life of Australian red meat products.”

Chilled, vacuum-packed red meat greatly extends storage life compared to un-packaged fresh meat. The vacuum-packing removes oxygen which slows the growth of bacteria and preserves the meat quality at the optimal temperatures.

The extended shelf-life of chilled, vacuum-packed meat allows meat to be exported in refrigerated containers sent by sea rather than air freight—and sea transport is more cost efficient than air freight.

By reducing freight costs, Australian meat may become cheaper and more desirable for importers. A longer shelf-life also helps meat distributors and retailers reduce waste.

With the GCC countries setting a precedent to receive the 120-day packaged beef and buffalo and 90 days for sheep and goat meat, it is expected that other markets will be more confident to adopt the same change.

Source: Minister for Agriculture


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  1. Simon Hetherington, 24/10/2023

    how does extending the shelf-life date of chilled product extend the shelf life of the product itself – will buffalo meat stand the test of 120 days in a Bag? I don’t think so

    There have been enormous advances in chilling technology and packaging, alone, over the past ten years, Simon. Shelf life limits set by regulators on red meat and other perishable products are inevitably conservative, but that does not mean they shouldn’t be extended, as knowledge grows, and technology advances. The term, ‘red meat’ as used in the report normally refers to beef and sheepmeat – not game species like buffalo. Editor

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