Sheep shortage hits meat supply in Bahrain
Manama, February 11, 2014
Butchers in Bahrain's central markets have not received live sheep for the last four days, it has been claimed.
They said they were under pressure from customers who have been demanding fresh lamb for days, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
It is the latest in a series of meat shortages that has hit Bahrain since August 2012 when it turned away 21,000 Australian sheep due to health concerns.
However, Bahrain Livestock Company (BLC), the main supplier of subsidised livestock to the Bahrain government, denied the claims.
"The (chilled and frozen) meat supply is available and there is no shortage," said BLC chairman Ebrahim Zainal, refusing to comment on the livestock status in the country.
The GDN visited the BLC yesterday to purchase live sheep, but was turned away.
"There is no stock at all and I don't know when there will be," replied an employee.
One of Bahrain's main meat suppliers said he was inundated with complaints from butchers, customers and supermarkets about a shortage of fresh meat.
"I supply some of the supermarkets in Bahrain and I am getting a lot of pressure from them to get freshly slaughtered meat," said the supplier, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
"We have not been able to get any fresh meat for three or four days.
"There is no freshly slaughtered meat in any of Bahrain's markets and no one is telling us when it will be back.
"We have had to offer our clients alternatives by providing the more expensive (unsubsidised) meat that we get from Hamala and some local farmers, but most people don't want to spend so much.
"We don't care about the politics of the meat or where it comes from as long as it is clean, good quality and Halal."
Parliament's meat probe committee is also looking into the situation, but its head Adnan Al Maliki says shortages are to be expected until a consistent source of livestock can be arranged.
"This shortage is due to a number of reasons but mainly there was a Saudi importer that recently had problems with importing because he was unable to provide the right kind of paperwork," said the MP.
"People in Bahrain would like to get Australian livestock but that meat is no good - it comes from animals that are too old to even provide good wool, which is why we haven't resumed importing yet. We want young sheep around a year old.
"We are working together to get more good quality meat in the market and in all honesty we don't care who brings it as long as the supply is consistent. Until something is sorted out soon then shortages are bound to happen."
The Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry could not be reached for comment yesterday.
The GDN reported in December that an inquiry was launched after a Saudi livestock importer complained that a shipment of 40,000 sheep destined for Bahrain had been stalled.
He claimed he was being asked to pay over the odds to quarantine the animals in Djibouti, and was forced to use a more expensive quarantine facility in Somalia if he wanted to import to Bahrain. - TradeArabia News Service