PROTECTIONISM CONCERNS OVER SAUDI FROZEN POULTRY RULES

Concerns have been raised by Saudi Arabia’s proposal to cut the shelf life of frozen poultry products from one year down to three months.

The new rules – which relate to the expiration date from the day of slaughter – could be protectionist, according to a major trade body.

Saudi Arabia’s Food and Drug Authority told the World Trade Organisation’s Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures about the amended rules in May.

In reports quoting the news agency Reuters, Patricio Rohner, Vice President of Brazil’s largest chicken processor, BRF, suggested that the rules would create difficulties given that Saudi Arabia’s main port, Jeddah, lies 1,000km from the country’s capital, Riyadh.

“Both local and foreign suppliers will have to adjust if this becomes the new standard,” he said.

In a statement quoted by Reuters, the new measures were branded as being of “a potential protectionist nature” by the Brazilian Association of Animal Protein.

Saudi Arabia is said to account for 11% of poultry exports from Brazil, which is the world’s biggest poultry exporter, and the measures come at a time when the sector is reportedly dealing with weak demand at home as well as rising corn prices.

BRF is said to be liaising with authorities over what could be done through World Trade Organisation rules in response to the restrictions, with countries said to have 60 days to comment.

As well as Brazilian exporters, producers in France and Ukraine are also said to be worried by the new rules.

In a separate move, the Saudi Food and Drug Authority recently banned imports from 11 Brazilian poultry processing plants, seven of them owned by another Brazilian poultry company, JBS.

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