World meat and dairy experts chew the fat
outbreaks and consumer health concerns, world agriculture policy
makers, meat traders, dairy experts, veterinarians and private
sector producers have attended the 20th session of the
Intergovernmental Group on Meat and Dairy Products.
The FAO meeting brought together more that 140 participants from 56 countries, more than half from developing countries. The experts examined the critical challenges affecting markets for meat and dairy, particularly with regards the issues of pricing and fighting animal diseases.
Opening the four-day session on 17 June, Alexander Sarris, FAO Director of Commodities and Trade, warned that this is a time "when the world meat economy is shaken by a succession of disease outbreaks around the world and escalating consumer concern about meat safety."
"It is clear that the international livestock markets are becoming increasingly complex and fragmented as animal disease outbreaks, stricter food quality standards and consequent shifts in consumer preferences, lead to policy and institutional changes in livestock markets," Sarris said.
"These issues are posing challenges to economic agents in the global livestock economy and have implications for the future effective functioning of markets," he concluded. According to the Rome-based FAO, animal diseases, rising feed prices and considerable uncertainty about consumer demand for meat products are slowing the expansion in global meat output in 2004. Meat markets have been disrupted by the impact of the avian influenza, which led to increased poultry mortality throughout Asia and parts of North America as well as by the discovery of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or Mad Cow Disease, in North America.
Global meat trade declining
Import bans on meat produced in diseased areas in early 2004, affected approximately one-third of global meat exports, or 6 million tons, the FAO said. While the bans have been temporary, global meat trade, originally forecast to rise in 2004, is now anticipated to slide by 4 per cent to 18.4 million tons.
The meat and dairy experts gathered in Winnipeg will also examine the impact that import surges of meat and dairy products have on developing countries. In addition, the group will take up the critical issue of service provision to the livestock sector, which is increasingly under pressure to maintain healthy animals and ensure quality and safe products.
FAO held a symposium on Meeting International Standards for Livestock: the Challenge for Developing Countries, at the end of today's opening session followed the next day with a dairy symposium.
FAO challenged the Intergovernmental group on meat and dairy 'to move from the recommendations generated by these symposia to propose a course of action involving both FAO, other institutions and the delegates themselves.'