ANALYSIS - A confidence appears to be returning to the European meat sector as trade in several quarters is growing, wrtites Chris Harris.
The optimism in the sector has been apparent this week at the Anuga food exhibition in Germany, where despite a consolidation in the meat processing industry over recent months and a series of mergers and acquisitions dominating the market business is starting to recover and grow.
Following the scandal over horsemeat contamination of processed beef products earlier in the year, emphasis among companies at the Anuga exhibition in Cologne has been on the provenance of products.
For the US, while the talk recently has been over the acquisition of Smithfield Foods by the Chinese company Shuanghui and concerns over the breakdown of agreement over the budget, for the meat sector there is a feeling that the good times are returning.
According to Dan Halstrom, vice president of the US Meat Export Federation lower corn prices and a good harvest this year will see more pigs on the market and pig producers willing to expand.
In the beef sector, Mr Halstrom said that Japan has been a very good market for US beef producers and exporters this year and there are hopes that the Chinese market will open up to US beef.
There is speculation that the Smithfield-Shuanghui deal could in some way smoothe the path for US meat exports although the Chinese market is already open to US pork exporters.
While the US exporters are looking for large quantity meat exports to countries such as China, smaller exporters such as Scotland are changing tack.
According to Laurent Vernet, Quality Meat Scotland’s head of marketing, Scotland is looking to export more to countries such as Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland.
While France and Italy have been mainstays for Scottish exports, the sector is now looking to the more stable economies of the northern European Countries where the niche, more expensive Scottish meat products can find a better market.
While France and Italy will remain the backbone of the exports, Mr Vernet believes that it is better to seek to sell products in regions that while either still in or affected by the Euro zone are not as vulnerable.
The economic concerns are reflected in the fall in trade with countries such as Spain, Portugal and Greece.
However, one of the major facts apparent at the Anuga show is the dominance of the South American meat producers.
Brazil is riding high in the market place with 11.5 per cent of the global beef trade, 23.3 per cent of the global poultry trade and 3.9 per cent of the world pork market.
While the Brazilian companies are consolidating the place in the global arena other South American countries such as Uruguay are setting out to make their mark too.
Uruguay has specifically targeted Germany and has a delegation of more than 80 exporters at the German food show.