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Meat Industry to Face Regulations From 2017- Will Meat Prices Increase or Not?

Starting January 1, 2017, entrepreneurs will be obliged to fix labels onto meat products indicating expiry date, content and place of production.

Ignoring this requirement will be punished by fines. Technical regulations will be applicable to all stages of production, processing and distribution of meat products and retail trade.

The mentioned regulations refer to organizations and public food outlets, canteens at plants, restaurants, wholesale stores and supermarkets.

The Caucasus Business Week (CBW) has inquired whether something may change for consumers and whether the mentioned regulations will make meat products more expensive.

National Food Agency

Ana Gemazashvili, deputy head of Food Products Department of National Food Agency: Government’s draft resolution has been prepared to determine labeling regulations. The resolution determines regulations for labeling meat products and, at the same time, enables to determine connection between meat products and live cattle.

“This resolution determines that an identification sign should be conferred to slaughtered animal. If cow without an ear mark is delivered to slaughterhouse, in this case the slaughterhouse must confer an unique number. Recognition number added by slaughterhouse must be also indicated. This additional component enables us to control food chain starting from live cattle up to consumer market”, Gamazashvili said.

These regulations will refer to all sorts of cattle and poultry meat. These measures are less expected to raise final prices of meat products, Gemazashvili said.

“I do not expect these regulations to be reflected on final price of meat products. This is a certain kind of protection of a business operator so as their image and market niche be protected. This is an unique mean for establishing products on the market”, Gemazashvili pointed out.

National Food Agency reports that violation of labeling regulations will be punished by fine: 400 GEL for the first case. The fine amount triples for repeated violation of regulations.

Poultry Development Association

Zurab Uchumbegashvili, director for Poultry Development Association, noted that this process will not affect chicken meat products, because the manufacturer used to label the product previously too. Nothing will change on the market if speculations are prevented, he added.

BiuBiu Poultry Company

Revaz Vashakidze, head of BiuBiu poultry company, welcomes introduction of the mentioned practice, but casts doubts on its fulfillment. The mentioned regulations were introduced in our production process long ago and nothing will change for BiuBiu company, including  in terms of prices, he said.

Verdzi Meat Products Manufacturer

Erekle Natroshvili, one of the founders of Verdzi meat products manufacturing company, says that the mentioned regulations will be less reflected on price of meat and meat products. Meat products will rise in price, but insignificantly, he noted. “These costs are less reflected on major companies, while considerable influence is expected in small companies. If we want to move to European standards, we should establish these norms. There is no other way. At this stage, our company is getting ready for new regulations”, Natroshvili said.

Blauenstein Georgia Meat Products Manufacturing Company

Nino Lomidze, representative of Blauenstein Georgia meat products manufacturing company and store manager, noted that the mentioned regulations will make no influence on the company, because the company introduced European standards from the very foundation, including labeling regulations. Consequently, the new regulations will not effect the production prices, she said. “Place of origin is indicated on our product,  as well as the product number. It is labeled. In case of production process, we also indicate meat content, as well as expiry date and storage conditions, date of production”, Lomidze said. Additional costs are required for labeling, but these costs have been already reflected in the prime cost of Blauenstein Georgia products, while companies, which have not introduced these standards, will have to significantly increase prime costs of their products, Lomidze pointed out.  “this is considerable money. This factor should be analyzed. Place of origin, conferring the number and similar technical issues are related to expenditures”, Lomidze noted.

LLC Matador Slaughterhouse

Ioseb Kokhtashvili, director of LLC Matador, Kakheti-based slaughterhouse, says that today there are a great volume of unexamined and unregistered meat products on the market. Consequently, introduction of labeling regulations is timely. Manufacturers slaughter cattle without slaughterhouses and sell similar meat without any control, he said. The control will enable the market to regulate prices. Tariffs may increase, but  insignificantly. Extreme growth will make product not salable”, Kokhtashvili said. As reported, Georgia’s agreement with EU on association calls for enforcing regulations for labeling meat and meat products in the country.

Labels must indicate the following information:

Reference number that is conferred to the animal by a business operator on entering slaughterhouse: recognition number of the slaughterhouse, where the animal was slaughtered. If the meat is cut at the slaughterhouse, recognition number of the business operator, who has cut the meat, must be affixed; If the meat is received from the cattle, that was born, raised and slaughtered in Georgia, personal number of deliverer of the animal to the slaughterhouse must be indicated on the label; If places of birth, feeding, growth and slaughter differs from each other, the label must contain information on each of them.

At the same time, if meat is imported or produced in Georgia from imported live cattle, the label must indicate: «Import of Live Cattle» and name of country of origin. If meat is not cut at slaughterhouse, label must be placed on the whole body of meat, while if the meat is cut at slaughterhouse, the label must be placed at all slabs and the label must be easily removable.  Under technical regulations, the business operator that produces cut meat must shape the consignment of meat received from the same slaughterhouse. As an exception, it is allowed to shape consignment of cut meat from three various slaughterhouses; For cut and unpacked meat, the size of the consignment may exceed daily output of cutting plant.

Meat received from cattle from various countries must be placed by business operator separately at retail network. Information must be placed near slabs of meat so as consumers could differ meat products of various origin from each other.  Business operator in retail sector must register recognition number of slaughterhouse and meat cutting company on daily basis and transmit them to consumer upon request.

Under technical regulations, business operator that carries out production and sales of meat, besides labeling, is obliged to introduce the tracking system that enables to determine connection between meat and distinct animal or/and animals.  Control over fulfillment of technical regulations will be carried out by National Food Agency.