Alliance Group is strengthening its presence in Iraq as it looks to drive export growth in the country.
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. Exports of fully branded Pure South lamb to the Middle Eastern country have increased by approximately 35 per cent in the past year.
Currently, 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 believes there is potential for more growth in the market as consumers become more sophisticated and it targets higher-end supermarkets.
The company is 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 is also targeting the country’s semi-autonomous northern territory Kurdistan, which boasts better marketing structures and higher disposable incomes.
Murray Brown, general manager of marketing at Alliance Group, said the co-operative’s in-market partner, Qibbla Halal, has two factories in Baghdad and Erbiland and processes 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.”
He added: “As Iraq is still missing marketing structures such as supermarket chains or large commercial malls, we are also looking to enter the market in Kurdistan.”
“We see Iraq as a land of opportunity and the outlook is extremely promising given how central and important meat is across all the different ethnic and religious groups in the country.”
Exports of New Zealand lamb to Iraq in the year to end 30 September 2013 were worth $3.826 million, according to B+LNZ Ltd statistics. This is more than double the previous year.