The international meat industry is facing tremendous change and has witnessed a whirlwind of changes and developments across the industry.
However, there were also a number of winners, with new market openings as well as several mergers and joint ventures creating huge opportunities.
With so many uncertainties, it is difficult to determine the future of the industry. However, GlobalMeatNews has narrowed down three main topics that we will be keeping an eye on for 2019.
Yes, we had to mention Brexit, but nearly three years after the UK voted to leave the European Union, the talks are still in limbo, leaving many meat processors worried about their future.
Policy has played a big role in agriculture this year and, without a deal right for the UK, international meat traders face challenges with tariffs, veterinary checks and customs.
Many European producers have been proactive in preparing for Brexit and are preparing to consolidate trade ties with the UK. The most recent include Germany's Tönnies Group buying Cumberland sausage producer Riverway Foods to expand its UK market share, and Kepak acquiring Boparan Holdings' 2 Sisters Red Meat division.
There also remains a quandary about the UK being flexible with its welfare standards in terms of chlorinated chicken and US hormone meat. UK meat trade heavyweights, including the British Meat Processors Association and the British Poultry Council, have remained steadfast in not wanting to see these types of products imported into Britain.
However, according to a survey by the UK Agriculture and Horticulture Council, there are consumers who would not be bothered by treated imported meats being stocked in supermarkets and would not change their buying habits.
After a turbulent year with retaliatory tariffs imposed on US meat products, President Donald Trump is working with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to build bridges with some of the world's top meat markets, including China, Mexico. and Canada.
US hog farmers revealed a few months ago that the tariffs imposed on the US had significantly damaged the sector financially, with costs rising to $1.5 billion.
However, progress is being made to correct the damage, with China agreeing in principle that it would cut tariffs by up to 40%. The deal was made during a meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires earlier this month.
Meanwhile, the US, Canada and Mexico also signed an agreement to open up trade between the countries.
The move was welcomed by the chairman of the National Board of Pork Producers, Jim Heimerl, who said it would preserve the zero-tariff pork trade in the US for the long term.
That said, Trump is known to be very unpredictable and one more slip by the US president could result in catastrophic results for the meat industry.
alternatives to meat
It has been a pivotal year for meat alternatives makers, who are keeping the pressure on traditional livestock producers to perform strongly.
With many global alternative meat companies such as Vivera and Beyond Meat securing space at major UK retailers, there will be concerns over whether the sector will crowd out the traditional meat business.
The cultured meat industry has also revealed high ambitions in terms of bringing lab-grown meats to the mainstream market. During a visit to Maastricht, the Netherlands, earlier this year, Mosa Meat co-founder Mark Post revealed to GlobalMeatNews that lab-grown meat had the potential to fully replace meat production in the industry. The company added that it anticipated that lab-grown meats would be sold at retailers around the world within the next 10 years.
Innovation has been a key factor in the success of meat alternatives, with companies including Cargill expanding plant-based products into the fish sector.
Consumer demand for meat alternatives is also strengthening each month as Mintel revealed that sales have outstripped traditional UK meat purchases.
So how far can the meat alternatives sector go?
Will we see plant-based proteins in dedicated supermarket aisles? Due to the number of products already available on the market, we anticipate that it is only a matter of time before retailers stop stocking items alongside animal products.
Will cultured meats be better known in the industry? It's probably a long way off considering the amount of time it took for plant-based proteins to be widely accepted, but it certainly has enormous potential.
Source: GlobalMeatNews, translated and adapted by the BeefPoint Team.
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