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Audio: Beef Exports to Egypt Face Potential Obstacle

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Egypt is the second-largest market for U.S. beef variety meat (behind Mexico) and the largest destination for U.S. beef livers.

All U.S. beef entering Egypt must be halal-certified, and exporters previously contracted with any one of six approved entities to provide this certification. But effective May 1, the government of Egypt recognizes only one approved halal certifier. Paul Clayton, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) senior vice president for export services, explains that this could disrupt exports to Egypt, though USMEF is working with USDA and its member companies to keep product moving as smoothly as possible.

Last year the volume of livers exported to Egypt exceeded 54,000 metric tons, accounting for 65% of all U.S. liver exports. But this was down from a peak of 82% in 2015, and Clayton says USMEF has been working for several years to develop a wider range of markets for beef livers, which includes South Africa, Peru and Colombia. He notes that Tunisia, which recently opened to U.S. beef, is also a potential market for U.S. livers.

Transcript

Joe Schuele: Egypt is a key destination for U.S. beef exports and especially for beef livers, and now those exports face a potential obstacle. Paul Clayton, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) senior vice president for export services has more details in this USMEF report:

Paul Clayton: Egypt is one of our biggest variety meat markets ā€” actually it’s our second-largest variety meat market ā€” and largest liver market. About 65% of the U.S. livers go into the Egypt market. It is a market in which we are required to have halal certification. What that means is that a third party religious group that can perform the halal procedures must certify that these animals went under that procedure. There have been six different Islamic centers certifying bodies that can do this and just this week the Egyptian government delisted five of those Islamic centers and suspended one, and then put a new one in that would be the sole Islamic center that could do the certification. As of today, we haven’t heard a lot of disruption however, we hear a lot of concern out of the exporters. Even though it’s a challenging situation, we’re certainly trying to work through that. We’re working and talking with the U.S. government. They of course are in turn talking with the Egyptian government also to provide some alternatives and alleviate some of the potential problems here.

Joe Schuele: Egypt once took more than 80% of U.S. beef livers but USMEF has worked to diversify those markets:

Paul Clayton:This is a pretty good example of how USMEF works in that we try to have as many diverse markets as we possibly can. The markets that we’ve built over the last few years beyond the Egyptian market for our variety meats have been pretty valuable to us. Specific countries that are alternatives for the liver market are places like South Africa, Peru, Colombia. Some good news that we’ve just had in the last couple of weeks is that the Tunisian market opened up. Tunisia is another good market for livers and other variety meats.

Joe Schuele: For more information, please visit USMEF.org. For the U.S. Meat Export Federation, Iā€™m Joe Schuele.

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The U.S. Meat Export Federation (www.USMEF.org) is the trade association responsible for developing international markets for the U.S. red meat industry. It is funded by USDA; the beef, pork, lamb, corn and soybean checkoff programs, as well as its members representing nine industry sectors: beef/veal producing & feeding, pork producing & feeding, lamb producing & feeding, packing & processing, purveying & trading, oilseeds producing, feedgrains producing, farm organizations and supply & service organizations.