World Meat Congress Addresses Meat Food Safety
   2014-06-16 20:28:36      Web Editor: Wang

He Luli, honorary president of the China Meat Association, speaks at the 20th World Meat Congress, which opened in Beijing on Sunday, June 15, 2014. [Photo: Fei]

Anchor: The World Meat Congress has recently been convened in Beijing. The meeting focuses on discussions around meat safety and the meat industry's sustainable development. CRI's Xu Fei takes a closer look.



Reporter: The 20th World Meat Congress, a biannual event hosted by the International Meat Secretariat, is a global platform for the delegates of livestock and meat sectors to discuss the issues concerning the meat industry's development.

This year's congress has attracted governmental delegations from 32 countries and regions.
A U.S. delegate, Alfred v. Almanza, is the administrator of the US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety Inspection Service.

"The fact that we are all here together at this conference is evidence of international commitment to improve science-based food safety and trade policies. Strong relationships and opportunity for people at higher levels of government to go and observe other inspection systems remain crucial to global and even to our local food safety."

Almanza explained that the Food Safety Inspection Service he works with has 10-thousand employees that are responsible for the safety of the supply of meat and poultry in the U.S. market, including imported food.

To guarantee the meat food security is a common concern and arduous task around the world.

Meng Qingguo, president of China Meat Association, addresses the problems of meat and food safety in China at the congress.

"I think there are key enterprises supplying meat that are up to the standard of the quality we want. However, I'm afraid that 80 percent of small businesses are using potentially substandard meat. The supply chain of the meat industry in China is long, with a low concentration rate, and there are many factors that may cause potential risks and difficulty in supervising food safety."

According to Meng, China could also face challenges as sustainable meat supplies tighten.

In 2007, China imported 130-thousand tons of pork from the U.S. due to a short supply of pork in the domestic market. Likewise, the amount of imported pork from the U.S. was equal to the amount of pork consumed in Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin in one week.

Four years later in 2011, China suffered again from an insufficient meat supply, which led to historically high prices in meat products. Although the Chinese government has taken effective measures to combat the price hikes and supply shortage, including an increase in meat imports to ensure the market supply sustainability, the issue reveals severe problems in the country's ability to address concerns over meat, as Meng Qingguo explains.

"China's ability to ensure the meat supply is relatively weak. The primary challenge that China's meat industry is faced with is to draft effective industry policies and establish a symmetrical information mechanism to ensure that the quantity of meat products on the supply side is adequate and their prices remain stable."

Another highlight of the congress is the delegates' prediction of the global trends in meat consumption for 2014.

Richard Brown, director of the Global Investment Research Alliance, or GIRA, is among a number of experts and scholars who gave an optimistic outlook for trends in the meat market worldwide this year.

"Our GIRA outlook for 2014 for the world meat market is fundamentally more positive than 2013, which was a year of caution; caution for the meat industry because the feed cost was extremely high. So in 2014, we have more positive demand outlook because the economic situation is better around the world. We expect meat consumption growth globally of about 1.5 percent and that's positive and it's more positive than the previous year. But it's slightly slower than prior historical rates of annual growth."

Beijing hosted the 11th World Meat Congress in 1997. The 20th congress returns to Beijing this year, and the theme of the event is "Prospects for Sustainable Development and Growth of the Global Meat Industry."

The congress, which was concluded on Monday, also offers a great opportunity for the sector to assess the potential for new markets.

For CRI, I'm Xu Fei.

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