Australian meat exporters are claiming a major victory from what might seem a small technical change in the way some countries in the Middle East accept our product.
Several countries, notably Saudi Arabia, have agreed for a shelf life extension in their stores for Australian sheep meat and beef from 70 days up to 120 days.
This change opens the door to cheaper sea freight for Australian chilled, vacuum-packed meat.
Their has been rising demand for chilled red meat over frozen product.
It has been years in the making.
These shelf life restrictions have long been one of the key non-tariff barriers across these markets.
Meat & Livestock Australia says the change could be worth more than $100 million for Australian growers.
The MLA and the Federal government has had to scientifically prove our meat's credentials.
Longer shelf life allows more time for product to be sold after entering the country, allows more product to be sent by sea rather than air, allows product to be on the shelf more regularly, and ensures less product is unsold at the expiry date.
Australia exported $440 million of red meat through air freight in 2019, of which half was chilled lamb sent to the Middle East.
COVID-19 restrictions have also impacted on the way exporters can freight product to overseas customers.
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said Australia would continue to engage with the other Gulf States-United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain-to make the case for the same shelf-life requirements for red meat from Australia.
MLA managing director Jason Strong said the MLA was helping the export trade implement the changes to their product's shelf life and would continue to monitor and advocate for permanent changes in markets that have not yet made a permanent change.
Similar changes made by the United Arab Emirates in 2017 saw shelf life for beef extended from 70 to 120 days, and sheepmeat from 70 to 90 days.
Mr Littleproud said the change was a result of collaboration between the government, Australian industry, and the Saudi Arabian government.
After years of lobbying, the Saudi Food and Agriculture Authority has agreed increase shelf life for chilled vacuum-packed beef and sheep meat.
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said it was a valuable outcome for Australian meat producers and exporters to Saudi Arabia.
"This advocacy was based on scientific evidence, and noted the mutual benefits including that a longer shelf life would reduce waste and support Saudi food security.
According to the government vacuum packed meat exported to Saudi Arabia was worth $79.2 million in 2020.
Total value of red meat exports to the Gulf States was more than $870 million in 2020, of which chilled red meat was worth $280.7 million.
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