Mexico’s growing beef industry is targeting Muslim consumers in the Middle East for its prime cuts as it seeks to reduce dependence on buyers in the United States.
The potential for a US-Mexico trade war under President Donald Trump has accelerated efforts by Mexican beef producers to explore alternative foreign markets to the United States, which buys 94 per cent of their exports worth nearly $1.6 billion last year.
Trump has vowed to redraw terms of trade with Mexico and Canada to the benefit of the United States.
That has firms looking to the Middle East, where most meat is imported from non-Muslim countries using animals slaughtered by the halal method prescribed by Islamic law.
Mexico, the world’s sixth biggest beef producer, plans to quadruple exports of halal beef to 20,000 tonnes by the end of 2018 from 5,000 tonnes this year, according to data from the Mexican cattle growers association AMEG.
The country should have 15 plants certified to produce halal meat by the end of next year, up from a current six, according to AMEG data.
- Halal slaughter houses will be operational in Mexico by the end of the year
Jesus Vizcarra, chief executive and owner of SuKarne, Mexico’s biggest beef exporter, said his company sees big potential for sales to Muslim-majority countries.
“We have to seek out more markets,” he said in an interview, pointing to near-term targets in Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Lebanon.
“There’s an opportunity in these Middle Eastern countries,” said Vizcarra, who is known in Mexico as the King of Beef and has boasted of being born in a slaughterhouse.
We’re on the path of diversification… and we won’t stop, because these occasional insults from the United States toward Mexico have opened our eyes
Mexican Agriculture Minister Jose Calzada recently told reporters.