Mongolia sets out hopes for large-scale beef exports

By Vladislav Vorotnikov

- Last updated on GMT

Mongolia has high hopes for its cattle export market
Mongolia has high hopes for its cattle export market

Related tags Meat Vladimir putin Beef Livestock

This winter Mongolia hopes to send 10.4 million head of cattle to slaughter, including 5.6m for export purposes, which would bring the country’s export volumes to 126,300 tonnes (t). According to the country’s Agriculture Ministry, the total livestock population in the country is estimated at 70m head. 

“Currently Mongolia is conducting negotiations to export meat products worth a total US$1 billion,”​ stated Minister of Agriculture and Food Radia Burmaa, explaining that the most promising export locations were Russia, China, Vietnam and the Middle East.

Previously, the Mongolian Meat Association estimated that the potential capacity for export supplies was 100,000t of meat and meat products per year worth a total US$300m. “However, the actual volume of exports over the last three years amounted to 8,415t, which reflects only 10% of Mongolia’s export potential,”​ said the head of the association Mahtan Jadamba.

“Horsemeat accounts for more than 80% of meat exports, while the rest is beef. Last year Russia was the biggest purchaser of Mongolian meat, with a total volume of 2,217t, while China was in second place with 779t of meat imports,”​ added Jadamba. He said that in May this year several meat processing facilities in Mongolia had been inspected by Vietnam veterinary agencies, while in August the country has been visited by Chinese specialists.

Mongolian officials expect that, as the result of these inspections, the list of approved suppliers will increase. Official data from the Agriculture Ministry states that the population of Mongolia, numbering three million people, consumes 250,000t of meat annually, while the country’s domestic capacity allows it to produce at least 315,000t of meat.

Meanwhile, last year Mongolia promised to boost the volume of supplies to Russia to 100,000t of meat per year given the Russian food embargo. During a visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to the country, the list of approved meat suppliers was expanded. However, the volume of deliveries still remains at the same rate as last year and, in the first half of 2015, Mongolia supplied only about 1,400t of meat to Russia.

Given the overall veterinary situation in the country, local experts believe the Mongolian government’s plans to establish large-scale exports of beef are unrealistic.

“There are many veterinary barriers [on the supply of Mongolian meat abroad], as supplying completely sterile meat from grazing livestock is almost impossible. The demands of Russian veterinary body Rosselkhoznadzor can only be met by large industrial holdings, but there are no such companies in the country,”​ commented Bato Achirov, an expert from the Asian-Russian Development board (an analytical agency within the Russian-Asian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs - RASPP).

“As such, it seems to me that it will be quite difficult for Mongolia to enter Russia’s meat market. For local producers it is easier to work with Muslim countries, where consumption of lamb takes precedence over other types of meat and the requirements for the imports of this product are much more simplistic,”​ he added.

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