Saudi Arabia issues new regulations for meat exports

KENYA – Saudi Arabia’s government has issued new requirements for Kenya’s meat exports requiring any meat to be exported to its country to be refrigerated and packed according to new regulations.

The government in its new export requirements stated that chilled and frozen livestock meat should be properly wrapped in suitable packaging material to facilitate the release of consignment of unpacked slaughtered animals and its unpacked cuts from Kenya to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

It noted that any package which does not comply with the new rules would not be accepted in its market.

“Notice is hereby issued that in order to comply with the requirements of technical regulations of the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) No. (SFDA.FD 996:20) related to chilled and frozen livestock meat, the SFDA require all exporters of refrigerated slaughtered animals and their unpacked parts to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to comply with the said regulations,” read part of the statement by Saudi government.

This year Kenya appointed two United Arab Emirates (UAE) foods and sales distribution companies, Global Foods and Blue Mountain, to market Kenyan meat products in the Middle East with Dubai as the distribution point. Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest markets for Kenyan meat, with the most popular being goat meat, lamb, and mutton.

Kenya is also planning to set up distribution centres and cold storage warehouses in Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Sudan, and Egypt.

“We want to directly take charge of the export market by doing away with middlemen in our supply chain system. This will also help us convert agent commission fees into income,” said Patrick Mutemi, the Deputy Managing Commissioner and Head of Finance and Marketing at the Kenya Meat Commission in an earlier interview.

The Middle East is a prime market for small stock products such as lamb, mutton, and goat meat while corned beef is more popular in the African market and Saudi Arabia.

Kenya Trade Network Agency (KenTrade), a state agency mandated to facilitate cross-border trade, has also implemented the National Electronic Single Window System (Kenya TradeNet System) which only accepts exports of meat of suppliers which have met required guidelines.

“For a supplier to qualify to export processed meat products such as prime cuts, bacon and sausages, they should have export health certificate from veterinary services under the Ministry of Livestock,” said Kentrade in a notice to exporters.

Every meat shipment must also be accompanied by a health certificate from Veterinary Services and a Certificate of Origin from the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Customs Department or Kenya Chamber of Commerce and Industry depending on the country of destination.

Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia, had in the past banned Kenyan meat exports citing sub-standard hygienic conditions.

The ban was lifted in 2016, but Kenya could still not meet the conditions set. An earlier report from the Ministry of Agriculture indicated that Kenya could sell as many as 2.5 million goats to Saudi Arabia during the months of Haj pilgrimage, the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca.

The opportunity was however lost to rivals like New Zealand, Australia and Djibouti. In 2019, Kenya earned Ksh7 billion (US$ 62,388,591) selling to other markets in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

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