The meat industry, particularly exports, is one of the most promising avenues for Mongolia to diversify its economy away from overreliance on extractive industries such as mining. Mongolia now exports at least 29,300 tonnes of meat annually, however this number is relatively now compared to the national livestock herd of over 66 million animals. Mongolia’s large ratio of livestock to its human population of about 3 million means the country has a lot of room to grow its meat exports.
Mongolian meat exporters are increasingly targeting Japan and the Middle East. Iran and other majority Muslim countries are a particular focus for exports of Halal, as costs for Halal meats are increasing globally.
A key concern to is diversify Mongolia’s meat buyers away from reliance of it’s two neighbors Russia and China. The country is said to have capacity to export over 200,000 tonnes per year. The Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry, Batzorig Batjargal has stated that the country has potential to multiply current meat exports by 10 in coming years.
One of the benefits of being a neighbor to China is the availability of Chinese investment money. Chinese investors are keen for quality investments in Mongolia. Once Chinese company plans to put $40 million into construction of a meat processing facility and supporting complex. Construction starts this year and is set to be completed by 2021. This new facility along will have planned ability to process 1 million livestock annually.
Mongolia is working with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation to develop solutions for the improvement of agricultural practices in Mongolia, including issues with animal health and product safety. One set-back for the country has been recent outbreaks of Food and Mouth Disease (FMD) which have put some countries off Mongolian meat. Mongolia is seeking recognition from the World Organization for Animal Health that Mongolian livestock are FMD free.
Of all the potential industries for development in Mongolia, the mean industry in particular has the most room for development. The right foreign investor in the meat industry here would have a lot of room to run with readily available land, and a pool of available workers with experience with animals. It is likely a major meat processing investment would have a favor of the Mongolian government which may be able to offer special terms.