Economy, Business And Markets

Australia Seeking to Revive Iranian Meat Market Links

Australia Seeking to Revive Iranian Meat Market LinksAustralia Seeking to Revive Iranian Meat Market Links

Australian meat processors and exporters are in Tehran this month hoping to revive old market loyalties in the wake of the United Nations recently lifting economic sanctions against Iran.

Although a dramatic drop in Australia’s sheep flock size to around 70 million has restricted the availability of sheep-meat exports to traditional markets, particularly the Middle East, industry officials say lamb and mutton sales to the region have some big prospects, Australian rural newspaper The Farm Weekly reported.

Beef exports to the Middle East are also generally flat, or down, because of supply shortages and price competition from major Australian rivals such as Brazil.

Earlier in February, Australian export companies, including sheep-meat leader Fletcher International, Victorian firms Scorpio Foods and InterAgri, and processors Manildra, Teys and JBS, were in Tehran for an inaugural bilateral forum of meat traders just a month after trade sanctions were officially lifted.

Although food sales to Iran were not blocked by the UN sanctions and Iran imported about 137,000 tons of red meat from various countries last year, an end to decades of US-led trade restrictions imposed against the nation’s nuclear programs will free up capital and economic activity, and stimulate food sales opportunities.

Australia’s agricultural export ties to Iran were worth about $1 billion 20 years ago, but were down to $360 million last year, with red meat sales almost non-existent in some periods during the sanctions, although worth about $3.4 million in 2014.

The Middle East buys 31% of Australia’s mutton exports and 29% of its lamb and took almost all of the country’s 2.1 million live sheep exports in 2014-15.