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Exploring Halal Meat Avenues

August 17, 2023 at 4:46 pm | Economic Affairs

Addressing challenges, implementing modern practices, and fostering supportive policies will undoubtedly bolster Pakistan’s position, allowing it to harness its status and credibility to market its Halal meat products worldwide.

By Fatima Saleem

Pakistan’s strategic geographical location places it in a favorable position to emerge as a key player in the global Halal meat industry. The Halal meat market has demonstrated remarkable growth, with a market size of US$2,221.3 billion that is projected to reach US$4,177.3 billion by 2028. However, despite this potential, Pakistan ranks 19th in meat exports, holding a meager market share of just 0.4%, lagging behind leaders like Brazil, Australia, and India.

While Pakistan exports Halal meat to countries such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, and Kuwait, beef constitutes over 80% of its exported meat. The government has also begun exploring economic opportunities by re-entering the Malaysian meat market as part of its geo-economic policy shift.

The challenges to our bovine meat industry can be broadly divided into two phases i.e. pre-slaughter and post-slaughter phase. In the pre-slaughter phase, the yield of meat per animal remains low. The difference in volume of meat between the animals from Pakistan and that from Brazil, US and Australia is a staggering 35%.

While Pakistan exports Halal meat to countries such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, and Kuwait, beef constitutes over 80% of its exported meat.

This is largely because cattle and buffaloes are still sold and purchased in the market with the intention to produce milk and not obtain meat. Prevalent diseases in the livestock like the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), Peste des Petitis Ruminants (PPR) and Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) are present in Pakistan due to which our meat often faces ban by other countries.

In the post slaughter phase, lack of modern meat processing units poses a major impediment as traditional slaughter houses still continue to function. The country’s largest and technologically advanced unit has been installed by Fauji Meat limited near Port Qasim, Karachi (functioning at 40% of its capacity).

There are 37 modern registered abattoirs in Pakistan with 21 in North and 16 in South of the country, all operating much under capacity.  The distance between these abattoirs and rural areas is great which proves to be counterproductive for the farmers due to which they opt not to use these facilities.

The traditional slaughter houses are not equipped with freezers. Resultantly, Pakistan has been unable to meet the demands of the local and international community due to which, countries like China, USA and Indonesia have banned our meat.

The government has also begun exploring economic opportunities by re-entering the Malaysian meat market as part of its geo-economic policy shift.

To make matter worse, our beef industry faces a price challenge with Indian meat which has a higher market capacity, low internal consumption and established framework to support exports.

The lack of regulatory prices along with the aforementioned challenges combined, leads to low or zero incentives for the farmers to rear cattle for meat output, thus affecting the country’s overall meat exports. One can therefore conclude that the poor performance of the country’s meat industry can be attributed to the irregular functioning of the industry.

The stakeholders have been long complaining of the government not being supportive enough towards them. To address these challenges, the government approved it’s first-ever policy in 2022 for the development of livestock industry with the aim to increase halal meat exports.

The policy is yet to be implemented and focuses on allocating more funds for research in the sector, establishing modern laboratory systems, developing model meat production farms and prioritizing livestock trade.

The country’s modern processing units need be equipped with blast freezers, and to ensure its implementation, tax subsidies up to 3% must be granted to units equipped with freezers.

Whilst it would be unfair to expect the government to micromanage all the challenges Halal meat industry faces, however, certain steps must be taken by the authorities to regulate its functioning.

The government has 46446 calves registered under its feedlot fattening program. The livestock is reared/fattened for 90-100 days with a low-grain feed until it reaches a desired weight for slaughtering. For wider dissemination and awareness of the concept, electronic and print media channels must be fully utilized.

Periodic mass vaccination drives in collaboration with private companies should be carried out to control disease in livestock.

The expanding niche of frozen bovine meat, valued at $32.8 billion in global trade, offers Pakistan considerable economic potential.

There is a need to designate special Halal meat zones which are exempted from tax for at least ten years for the encouragement of private investors.   

To ensure traceability of disease in animals, a record of its health covering animal identification, its movement and disease control must be maintained.

It is worth mentioning that the niche of frozen bovine meat is expanding. In 2021, it was the world’s 140th most traded product, holding a total share of $32.8B. This is because frozen beef is less expensive and has a greater shelf life, thus making it a more viable investment.

The country’s modern processing units need be equipped with blast freezers, and to ensure its implementation, tax subsidies up to 3% must be granted to units equipped with freezers.

In addition, technologically advanced abattoirs need to be installed at central locations so that the travel costs of farmers can be curtailed and these plants become easily accessible to those hailing from far flung areas.

In order to compete internationally, the herding capacity of farms should be increased and for this, there is a need to designate the vast desert plains of Cholistan and Thar to interested individuals/corporate companies for rearing of improved breeds of cattle.

Investors should also be granted access to government’s diplomatic channels to hold/participate in animal shows at international markets to attract buyers

There lies massive economic opening in the shape of Halal meat exports. Pakistan can encash its status to build credibility and market its products around the globe.

In addition to beef, it must tap avenues in sea-food, ostrich, mutton and poultry farming to its export turnover. The sector will not only diversify our economic outreach but also add to the country’s overall food security.

The expanding niche of frozen bovine meat, valued at $32.8 billion in global trade, offers Pakistan considerable economic potential. Diversification beyond beef into seafood, ostrich, mutton, and poultry farming could further enhance export turnover. This strategy not only broadens economic outreach but also contributes to the country’s overall food security.

Addressing challenges, implementing modern practices, and fostering supportive policies will undoubtedly bolster Pakistan’s position, allowing it to harness its status and credibility to market its Halal meat products worldwide. Through strategic initiatives and diverse offerings, Pakistan can solidify its position as a significant player in the global Halal meat market.

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