Speaking at a press conference last month, Alireza Azizollahi, CEO of the Central Union of Iran Animal Farmers, forecast that the meat consumption in the upcoming Iranian year, starting from March 20, 2018, would be on the rise. This, he said, would mean that Iran needs to increase import of some types of meat, including veal and lamb.
The spokesperson for a government agency who wished to not be named told GlobalMeatNews that the lowered import tariffs should be of benefit the domestic meat-processing industry, which was widely using frozen beef. He added that this, in turn, should make some meat products more affordable for the citizens.
Iran consumption of red meat was 11.5 kg per capita in 2017 or 920,000 tonnes, according to the estimations shared by the Ministry of Agricultural Jihad. Iran increased red meat production from 470,000 tonnes in 2011 to 838,000 tonnes 2017, and decreased red meat import from 146,000 tonnes to 95,000 tonnes during the same period, according to the Ministry.
Meanwhile, the current red meat consumption in the country is estimated to be 25% lower, as compared to the level seen in early 2000s. The demand for red meat was undermined with the low purchasing power of population on the background of international sanctions introduced against Iran to prevent it from developing its nuclear program, the officials earlier explained.
Iran has been importing red meat primarily from Brazil, with some batches were also coming from China, Australia and Germany, according to official information.
Ministry of Agricultural Jihad earlier forecast that Iran would increase domestic red meat production by nearly 150,000 tonnes to become self-sufficient on beef and lamb by 2022. The Ministry has not issued any additional information in response to request of GlobalMeatNews.
Iran has taken steps to encourage some increase in red meat production due to the complicated situation in the domestic poultry industry.
The country culled 25 million heads of chicken, mainly laying hens in 2017 due to the epidemic of avian influenza (AI), suffering losses of some $500 million, the local news outlet IRNA reported, citing estimations of the Tehran Chamber of Commerce.
The virus became a threat to the broiler segment, jeopardizing the entire supply chain in the meat industry, according to a statement released by the Chamber of Commerce. The price per kg of chicken as the result reached $1.5 in January 2018, up by 7.7% as compared to January 2017, according to the information released by the government agencies.
Iranian citizens are very sensitive to the fluctuations of meat prices. The rise in average price of poultry in 2012 stimulated social unrest in the country. The protests in Tehran in December 2017 were reportedly also partly associated with the rise in prices for some food products, primarily eggs.