Latvian beef producers try to tap local market

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The Latvian beef sector is more export-oriented, and local beef can mostly be purchased directly from farmers. In order to expand in the local market, several farms have joined forces, Latvian Radio reported May 6.

There are more than 80 cattle in the herd of Rencēni parish “Lizagro Ltd”. This farm is now one of ten members of the “Latvijas liellops” (Latvian cattle) cooperative.

“The purpose of the co-op is to supply Latvian consumers with really high quality meat, which has come from Latvian farms. I have this local-patriotism that I want my product to be for the Latvian consumer, on the Latvian family table,” said owner Aldis Trēziņš.

He is convinced that Latvia has every opportunity to produce high-quality beef. So it is surprising that it's not always possible to buy local beef in shops.

“It is a paradox that when I enter the Valmiera supermarket, I see that there is Argentinian beef, Polish beef, and only the far corner, in a plain package, has the beef of Latvia. It is not clear why we are growing high quality cows in Latvia, which give birth to quality calves, which we then send away to Poland, where they are fattened. Why can't we do it all here?” said the owner of Lizagro.

Trēziņš said that one can purchase meat in direct contact with the farm, but one farm cannot provide stable supply all year round. The aim of newly established cooperatives is to provide consumers with products steadily all the time.

Alma Bērziņa, chair of the co-op Latvijas liellops, said: “Unambiguously one of the benefits that we get when we work together is that we can provide the consumer with meat every week (..) because we are preparing a timetable between the farms. Then we can organize a flowing supply.”

“It will also reduce marketing spending. Not that we pay for our internet shops (..) and ads individually, but this is done jointly,” Bērziņa said.

However, the co-op chair is skeptical about conquering supermarket networks.

“With supermarket networks, the problem is that everyone wants to just earn and everyone wants to make surcharges. At the moment, the idea is that we, with the volumes we have in every city that we can put together, are definitely sticking to direct supply and sales. The aim is that we are slowly growing, and then we could start to go into export markets,” Bēŗziņa said.

Beef farmers see the outlook for their sector on the domestic market. Although pork is traditionally the most common in  Latvian cuisine, demand for quality beef is growing.

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