French beef companies are fully aware of the challenges that will present themselves as they look set to start exporting beef to the Middle East following the ban lift this May.
A BSE scare in 2000 led to the ban being imposed by the Middle East which saw supply of French beef completely shut down.
With the UAE now lifting the ban, and being closely followed by Kuwait, Ali Bergaoui, international trading manager, Europe and Africa for Jean Roze, believes there will undoubtedly be challenges of re-entering the market.
“The biggest challenge is to make people understand there are a lot of advantages to consuming French meat, especially when for years people have been used to eating a certain product.”
But Dominique Langlois, director of the Interbev and the GEF, the umbrella organisations for French companies exporting beef, told Caterer Middle East in an exclusive interview that the timing of the ban lift couldn’t be better with current Brazilian meat supply to the Middle East slowing down in light of customs tax imposed by the president which has in turn seen suppliers focus on meeting demands within Brazil itself.
But, he added, stringent procedures have been put in place to ensure the beef coming through from France is of the highest quality and is healthy.
“There have been processes we have had to put in place to absolutely ensure the safety of the beef and convince people of this,” said Langlois.
These have included ensuring all meat leaving the country is fully tested. In addition to this, the GEF ensures that any of the beef it is dealing with is fully traceable.
However Langlois says worldwide knowledge of the quality of French beef has eased their move back into the region.
“The quality of the beef has seen the Middle East consumer market demanding this product.
“I’m so grateful countries like the UAE and Kuwait are giving us that chance again. They are believing in the product because the quality is one of the best.”