Kekava has invested €5.5 million to pass Sweden’s quality certification and has become the first Baltic meat company authorised to make direct supplies to retail chains in the Swedish market, it claimed.
Kekava took on obligation to export antibiotic-free poultry, as well as comply with other strict safety requirements in Sweden.
“Swedish bird welfare standards and meat quality requirements are much higher than those required by EU law,” said Andrius Pranckevicius, chairman of the board at Kekava. “To obtain an export permit in the retail sector, Kekava has undergone repeated inspections and fully met all the existing Swedish quality criteria. We ensure a high level of bird protection and welfare and completely salmonella-free products. Moreover, we are the only company in the Baltic States that is able to ensure healthy birds that are grown without antibiotic treatment.”
Although Kekava has been selling poultry to Sweden for 10 years, supplying the retail chains is a new sales channel for the company. Overall, Kekava plans to deliver 400 tonnes (t) of poultry to Swedish retail and on-trade (HORECA) networks each month. Kekava’s total exports account for 48% of the company’s production, with exports to Sweden making up 41% of this total, the company estimated.
Production of antibiotic-free poultry was one of the reasons why the company has managed to succeed in Scandinavia, where the demand for this type of product is considerable, it said.
“Current antibiotic usage in Kekava is one of the lowest in the European Union and is on the same level as quality leaders such as Norway, Iceland and Sweden. Ninety per cent of the birds at Kekava are raised without any antibiotic treatment,” said the company in a statement.
Seeking the better margins
Speaking earlier this year, Pranckevicius said Kekava also planned to increase its exports to Asia this year. The company already exports some products to China and Vietnam and hoped to enter the Japanese market as well.
The company has been exporting its poultry products to Asia since 2016, and considered the region as one of the most promising sales markets, according to Pranckevicius. Overall, Kekava hoped to increase poultry exports by an average of 10% per year over the next few years, he explained.
Increasing exports should allow the company to improve its financial status, as Kekava has not been satisfied with the price of poultry on the domestic market. In 2016/17, the company suffered a net loss of €314,000, on a turnover of €57.2 million.
All European poultry producers have been negatively affected by a decrease in retail prices for poultry meat, added Pranckevicius. However, Kekava anticipated that, following a two-year slump, poultry prices on the domestic market in Latvia should stabilise in 2018.