World meat and dairy experts chew the fat

by 5m Editor
18 June 2004, at 12:00am

CANADA - In the face of rising meat and dairy prices, animal disease outbreaks and consumer health concerns, world agriculture policy-makers, meat traders, dairy experts, veterinarians and private sector producers today opened the 20th session of the Intergovernmental Group on Meat and Dairy Products.

The FAO meeting brings together more that 140 participants from 56 countries, more than half from developing countries. The experts will examine the critical challenges affecting markets for meat and dairy.

Opening the four-day session, Alexander Sarris, FAO Director of Commodities and Trade, warned that this is a time "when the world meat economy is shaken by a succession of disease outbreaks around the world and escalating consumer concern about meat safety."

Complex and fragmented markets

"It is clear that the international livestock markets are becoming increasingly complex and fragmented as animal disease outbreaks, stricter food quality standards and consequent shifts in consumer preferences lead to policy and institutional changes in livestock markets," Sarris said.

"These issues are posing challenges to economic agents in the global livestock economy and have implications for the future effective functioning of markets," he concluded.

According to FAO, animal diseases, rising feed prices and considerable uncertainty about consumer demand for meat products are slowing the expansion in global meat output in 2004.

Meat markets have been disrupted by the impact of avian influenza, which led to increased poultry mortality throughout Asia and parts of North America as well as by the discovery of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or Mad Cow Disease, in North America.

Global meat trade declining

Import bans on meat produced in diseased areas in early 2004, affected approximately one-third of global meat exports, or 6 million tonnes, FAO said. While the bans have been temporary, global meat trade, originally forecast to rise in 2004, is now anticipated to slide by 4 percent to 18.4 million tonnes.

The meat and dairy experts gathered in Winnipeg will also examine the impact that import surges of meat and dairy products have on developing countries. In addition, the group will take up the critical issue of service provision to the livestock sector, which is increasingly under pressure to maintain healthy animals and ensure quality and safe products.

A challenge to delegates

FAO will hold a symposium on "Meeting International Standards for Livestock: the Challenge for Developing Countries" at the end of today's opening session, followed tomorrow by a dairy symposium.

FAO challenged the Intergovernmental Group on Meat and Dairy Products "to move from the recommendations generated by these symposia to propose a course of action involving both FAO, other institutions and the delegates themselves."

World Meat Congress

This year, for the first time, the FAO meeting is being held immediately after the World Meat Congress, a gathering of the world's most influential agriculture policy-makers and industry experts, which met under the theme "The World Meat Industry at a Cross Roads."

According to Sarris, holding the Intergovernmental Group meeting "in tandem with an outside-organized conference which brings together meat traders, producers, policy-makers and other experts from around the world generates considerable synergies through enhanced dialogue and exchange between government officials and the private sector."

Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) - 17th June 2004

5m Editor