Meat, seafood exports record constant growth

KARACHI: Meat and seafood exports continue to grow strongly for the fifth year and have increased by almost four-fold since 2007 as presently meat exports have reached $12.93 million with growth of 20.58 percent in terms of value amid 9.33 percent volumetric increase. Seafood and its products’ exports are up by 13.5 percent to $28.6 million with growth in volumes recorded by 5 percent in first five months of the current financial year 2011-12, the Federal Bureau of Statistics (FBS) said.

The growth in exports and production of meat and seafood is termed an extraordinary achievement despite the floods that severely affected livestock in Sindh and Punjab in the past years.

The production of meat and seafood and their exports are likely to rise further in the upcoming financial year. Industry people say the rise in meat and meat preparation exports is on account of higher demand from Saudi Arabia after the Saudi government banned meat imports from some African countries.

Realising the potential in the Halal meat industry, which has worldwide sales of over $1 trillion, the Sindh Board of Investment (BoI) took a number of initiatives for the promotion of Halal meat industry in Pakistan at the start of past financial year 2010-11.

Exporters capitalised on stronger demand from Afghanistan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iran, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. The number of market players is limited in the sector of meat and its prepared products, however, there are few chains of stores started their business with handsome investment for tapping largely the potential of the exports.

Pakistan has not been able to resume seafood exports to the European Union (EU) since 2007 despite the fact that the local authorities along with stakeholders have carried out a lot of work to remove the concerns of the authority. The Marine Fishing Department (MFD) recently prepared a report and apprised the EU that it had met majority of its standards but failed to get a positive response despite sincere efforts.

Despite the EU ban, exports of fish and fish preparations have been on the rise as the country found and sustained such new markets as Bangladesh, Brunei, China, Egypt, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Iran, Lebanon, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand etc.

A number of initiatives are under way to further increase the export of fish and fish preparation, including the expansion of the existing laboratory infrastructure to provide testing and certification facilities acceptable to destination markets and financial support to revamp fish jetties at Gadani, Dam, Pasni and Jewani. There is still need to focus more on different areas such as packaging and marketing of fish and on developing seafood based industries like extraction of fish oil and manufacturing of export quality poultry feed.

Experts believe Pakistan meat and seafood industry could earn up to billion dollars within couple of years through short-term plan and relatively little investments in livestock and fishery sectors.

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