New restrictions on the import of Brazilian meat will have major impact on the UAE food industry, as meat from the country is sold by leading supermarkets and is the primary ingredient of many a dish on restaurant menus here. Some even use Brazilian meat, accepted as the token of quality, exclusively.
BRF, the Brazilian company that owns one of the world's leading producers of frozen foods and is the country's main exporter of meat-based products, said it is fully cooperating with the investigation and that only a small portion of Brazilian consignment is affected as per the initial investigation. Health authorities in the region have become vigilant after reports emerged that some Brazilian meat brands have been bribing officials to pass off rotten meat into the export market.
Brazilian authorities suspended activities of 21 companies for indulging in unhealthy practices in their production processes.
Speaking to Khaleej Times, people in the food retail industry said they expected prices to shoot up now, as Brazilian meat and chicken dominated a major chunk of the local market, particularly 90 per cent of the chicken market.
Representatives of fast food chains that primarily sell chicken-based food items said they waiting to hear from their Brazilian suppliers with whom they have long-term annual contracts. K. Muraleedharan, Chairman & Managing Director of Southern Franchising Company Group, said: "Many meat importers and suppliers in the UAE get Brazilian chicken due to its wide popularity."
Chicking, the fried chicken fast food chain, said it partially sources its chicken from Brazilian suppliers and the situation is being monitored closely.
Outside the UAE, restaurants and hotels that maintained long term contracts with Brazilian suppliers have either revoked their contracts or were looking at the existing stock of Brazilian meat. Small and medium sized restaurants in the UAE will be affected too. "The small restaurants which currently use Brazilian chicken will shift to leg quarter pieces, which will be relatively cheaper. This will be saving of Dh25 per carton, from the normal chicken," said a restaurant owner in Dubai.
Recently, the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MoCCAE) has taken precautionary measures on imported food products from Brazil.
Meanwhile, BRF officials in the UAE did not respond to Khaleej Times' queries about the issue. However, an official letter received by meat traders in the UAE was forwarded to Khaleej Times, saying the Brazilian parent company is cooperating with the investigation. Patro Faria, CEO of BRF, said in the statement that the company takes its products safety and quality very seriously. "The current investigation is over alleged corruption amongst government officials and falsified documents, not a food safety nor quality crisis at national nor company levels."
Prices may go up, say meat dealers
K. Muraleedharan, Chairman and MD of Southern Franchising Company Group, said: "Most supermarkets, fast food chains and restaurants in the UAE and others have been using Brazilian poultry. In any markets, supply and demand determines the price and definitely, meat and chicken prices will escalate in the near future." Backing this, Biju Koshy, MD of Tharavadu Chain of restaurants, said: "Restaurants have to get chicken from any source and our priority is availability. It does not affect our business immediately, but the rates may go up. During the festival season - Ramadan and Eid, the chicken and meat prices normally go up."
However, another distributor says prices may not be affected. "Only six Brazilian plants are mentioned in the ban, not all Brazilian products. There is enough stock in the market and if there is no problem in the international market, the UAE will not be affected," said Isahaq Kattupurathu, MD, Siam Trading, a meat and food distributor.
By VM Sathish
Copyright © 2022 Khaleej Times. All Rights Reserved.