You can download previous versions of our magazine from our archives.
Follow on facebook
“If you are serious about exporting then this is the place you have to be,” is the blunt message from Sandra Sullivan when asked why anyone should come to Cologne to the massive ANUGA food fair. Ms Sullivan has a vested interest of course because her firm help support small and medium businesses come to this event, which is held every second year. This year, some 67 companies took stand space under the UK banner.
The UK sector it is dwarfed by the 6,000 plus other stands at the event, which is held in 16 extra large halls – each one larger than the Highland Hall at Ingliston. totalling just under 30ha of exhibition space and some 20 miles of walking if you want to see every stand!
If you manage that you will have met representatives from some 99 countries from all over the world. After all, food forms the largest area of trade in the world market. One small consolation is that you do not need to carry any food as there are plates of nibbles and morsels of unidentifiable things and even more trays with food ready to be skewered with a cocktail stick.
To make life easier for the visitor, ANUGA breaks down into 10 smaller shows. There is an area for frozen food, another for drinks, one for chilled food, one for bakery products and one which was expanding until the recession but which was quieter this year, for organic produce. The biggest hall is kept for the meat exhibitors where there are more than 750 stand holders each selling their own range of meats. And it is here that QMS provides a base for Scottish meat exporting companies.
This year, ten of these companies used the QMS support to meet their customers and, just as at any major show, it is as much a meeting and discussing past deals and possible future opportunities as getting new
For Malcolm Hetherington, the general manager at Mathers,Inverurie, in addition to meeting existing customers, he was looking for new contacts, particularly in the Far and Middle East, where his company are looking to expand their exports.
Millers of Speyside currently export, beef, lamb and pork to France, Belgium, Holland and Malta and Peter Robertson said it was most important to be at ANUGA as it was a meeting point for the industry.
Scotbeef from Bridge of Allan have been in the export trade for some time delivering to supermarkets in Italy and France and they are trying to develop more markets in the Far East. Simon Dowling, their general
manager, said that while the market was challenging, “there are opportunities out there.”
Laurent Vernet, the head of marketing at QMS, said that, in addition to the main business of trading top quality Scotch Beef and Lamb, there was an increasing interest in the ‘fifth quarter’ which is the meat processors’ name for any non muscle part of the carcase.
Buyers, particularly from the Far East, but also from mainland Europe are buying tripes, sweetbreads, intestines, lungs, tendons, stomachs, trotters, tails, windpipes and other non prime products. Tongue is also
included in the list of fifth quarter items even although it is a muscle.
The problem for Scottish processors is that it is often difficult to collect up a container full of a single item of fifth quarter as many of the buyers specialise in tongues, or tripes or whatever. There is now some co-operation between companies in this part of the market. An example of the scale of this fifth quarter trading, admittedly based not on Scotland but on UK figures, is that this country exported 117,000
tonnes of pigmeat offals to the Far East last year.
Trading at the top end of the market is Scotch Beef and Lamb although a number of international competitors are now exporting product that has full traceability and is aimed at the top end of the market.
The chairman of the Uruguayan Meat Institute, Dr Luis Silveira, said that his country’s meat came from the twelve million cattle they have grazing on grass; some 90% of that total being either Hereford or Aberdeen Angus.
Unlike some of their South American neighbours, Uruguay has no foot and mouth disease and the quality of its traceability process has been given international recognition.
Although they are net importers of beef, the USA is now a significant exporter of top quality cuts of beef to the European market. For years, their entry into this market has been hampered by restrictions on their use of hormones, which they use widely in their beef production. Now through the use of a dedicated line, which offers full traceability, they are shipping six or seven containers of prime cuts into Holland on a weekly basis. The company behind this trade is Tysons, one of the world’s largest meat processors with an annual turnover of some 30 billion dollars.
Their head man in Europe said that the beef they were sending in was grain fed and came from beef lots in the Mid West before heading to their meat plant in Lexington, Nebraska. He admitted the USA imported a large tonnage of beef from both South America and Australia for their processing (burger) market. These were mainly grass fed older cattle.
One of the difficulties for meat traders in Europe in the current economic climate is that red meat consumption has fallen by 4% in thefirst few months of this year. That is significant, according to Paul Finnerty, the chief executive of Irish Food Producers, who own the eleven ABP meat processing plants in the UK. He also reported that buyers were taking longer to settle their bills and that made life difficult for the middle men in the meat business.
What is making life easier for those selling Scotch Lamb and Scotch Beef is the PGI tag which is widely recognised as giving buyers a guarantee that they are getting top quality meat.
One supermarket that has been buying Scotch Lamb for the past five years was recognised for this support at the show. Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Richard Lochhead awarded the Belgian part of Carrefour for promoting Scotch Lamb to the point where they now sell about 30 tonnes of lamb every month
But it was not all about red meat as far as Scotland was concerned. Apart from the ‘big boys’ Baxters of Fochabers were prominent as was Walkers Shortbread, there were a few smaller companies and individuals
Sandy Adamson, from Perthshire, was in the latter category. He visited ANUGA in order to see the German buyer of his frozen raspberries. The processing part of the soft fruit market has slipped a little from sight
under the advance of the fresh market produce coming out of the very visible polytunnels. His fruit is picked and Individually Quick Frozen (IQF) and then it is exported to mainland Europe. There Peter Vogel, of Uwe Jobmann, acts as a middle man in selling these raspberries to jam and preserve makers.
Vogel said that while buyers use Eastern European fruit for the bulk of their jam making, they like to use a small proportion of Scottish fruit because “they have a very specific flavour which helps in the making of premium quality jam.”
As Ms Sullivan said, this is the place to be regardless of what type of food is being traded.