Large volumes of lamb processed at Alliance Group’s Pukeuri plant are being exported to Iraq.
The group announced yesterday it was strengthening its presence in Iraq as it looked to drive export growth in the country.
Murray Brown, Alliance’s general manager marketing, said 35 to 40 per cent of the product being sent to Iraq came through Pukeuri.
“We see Iraq as the land of opportunity and the outlook is extremely promising given how important meat is across all the different ethnic and religious groups in the country,” Mr Brown said.
The company has just completed its first full year of exporting directly to hotels, restaurants, and catering companies in Iraq after previously shipping product through Jordan.
Export of fully branded Pure South lamb to the Middle Eastern country has increased by about 35 per cent in the past year.
Most of the ovine product sold in Iraq is domestic fresh, mainly due to a lack of reliable electricity for refrigeration.
Alliance Group is now predicting consumers will increasingly turn to frozen lamb as the investment in new infrastructure gathers pace.
The co-operative also believed there was potential for more growth in the market as consumers became more sophisticated and it targeted higher-end supermarkets.
The company was focusing on Iraq’s major business cities, including Baghdad, Basra, Mosul, Erbil and Sulaymania, as well as the holy cities of Karbala, Najaf and Samara.
It was also targeting the country’s semi-autonomous northern territory Kurdistan, which boasted better marketing structures and higher disposable incomes.
Mr Brown said the co-operative’s in-market partner, Qibbla Halal, had two factories in Baghdad and Erbiland and processed a range of meat cuts sourced from Alliance Group supplier farms in New Zealand.
“Iraq is a very wealthy country with vast national resources. With increases in tourism, especially religious tourism, red meat is the common product for these sectors.
“Iraq is a promising market and we are establishing ourselves as the leader in the country’s red meat sector. We’re also looking to enter the market in Kurdistan.”