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How do we keep meat on the menu?
Round Table Belgian Meat Office: the debate
How do we keep meat on the menu?
According to its annual tradition, the Belgian Meat office has again assembled 16 journalists from the specialized European trade publications in Brussels for the 9th Round Table. This two-day event was structured around the core question “How do we keep meat on the menu?”
On the first day, Luc Van Bellegem, Senior Marketing Adviser and Sofie Bombeeck, product manager at VLAM, provided participants with the background on recent trends involving consumer conduct and the purchase criteria for meat. This was supplemented with an explanation on the way in which VLAM approaches the B2C marketing in Belgium. An out-of-the box approach that has led to a number of sustainable and inspirational campaigns.
On the second day, we looked past the borders of Belgium and Europe. Because the world table is huge, and it is growing every year. However, meat exporters today are facing a whole range of challenges as a result of some recent developments on the world market. A panel of three CEOs of Belgian meat companies joined the table to discuss the world trade in meat. This year, the panel consists of Sofie Goossens (G.Goossens & Zonen), Guy Vandenberghe (Delavi) and Marc De Moor (Jademo).
Round Table: the debate
Meat consumption has moved to the East
The European consumer is eating less meat these last years, while per capita consumption is rising in Asia. So consumption really is heading east. However, it is not the same pork cuts as in Europe that end up on the plates in Asia. The difference in culinary culture ensures that the prime meat cuts only find a limited outlet in the East. The fifth quarter however still remains the most important export product to Asia.
However, the increased demand from the East pushed up the prices for the typical Asiatic products. Because the middle class is growing strongly, Belgian meat exporters are hoping the demand for the prime cuts will also increase. Although it will take some time before Asians will start to consume meat such as salami or ham.
The Russian embargo urged the meat sector to look for new outlet markets
The Russian boycott is affecting the European pork export heavily in the short term. New applications and marketing possibilities must after all be found, especially for the products that used to be exported frequently to Russia. This is also where a few Asiatic markets pop up in view. The ‘new’ suppliers on the Russian market must also adjust. All this takes time, but eventually the trade flows will be adjusted.
In the meanwhile, Russian producers are benefiting from unparalleled investment opportunities. Pork and meat prices are now among the highest in the world. It is however anyone’s guess as to how the situation will evolve from here. After all, the rising meat price also increases the risk of food inflation. In a country where people spend approximately a third of their income on food, that’s a sensitive issue.
According to Belgian meat exporters, South America will not be able to fill the void that Europe and North-America left in Russia in the immediate future. The South-Americans will also be cautious not to become too dependent on Russia, because as we are now experiencing, it could be over in a flash.
Production follows consumption to the East
Despite Asia’s ever growing demand for pork, the knowhow around pork production remains concentrated in Europe and the United States. The dynamic specialization throughout the entire column (production chain?) is responsible for this, albeit with regional variances, both in product and in service. The Belgian sector for instance has turned export into a specialty, with a dynamic customer service world-wide.
On the other hand, every country prefers to supply in its own needs and will take the necessary (and sometimes protective) measures. Asian production has grown markedly, but animal diseases make things difficult. As a result, the increased production cannot keep up with the growing consumption, and the import of pork from Europe, among others, remains necessary.
|Sofie Goossens - CEO||Guy Vandenberghe - Export manager||Marc De Moor - CEO|
|G. Goossens & Zonen||Delavi||Jademo|