The 2008-9 financial crisis is still nowhere near over, resulting in many industrial agri-food developments around the world being postponed. Some have even been cancelled due to lack of credit and the tougher financial conditions.
However, expansion remains the word on everybody's lips in the Far East and Russia. In South America, many grand projects have been cancelled, as the profitability of the main abattoir groups has fallen.
In Europe, all eyes are on Germany and Ireland where investment remains high. The best example is the project of a super-abattoir in Kilbergan jointly run by Kepak and Dawn Meats.
This is the first major abattoir to be built in Eire for more than twenty years and should be able to handle 200,000 cattle per year. The project forms the centrepiece of a @170m programme.
Although the cost of financing is likely to be higher than originally expected, the real issue for Ireland is the future availability of stock. Spain and Poland retain their high level of investment activity in the meat sector. During an EBLEX mission to Italy, we were also surprised by the level of investment with family businesses still investing their own cash in concrete and machinery.
The financial crisis has another unfortunate consequence: the downgrading of credit rating and insurance cover for many importers, and the lack of trade credit.
Many exporters are unable to get insurance for their clients and even well established and reputable companies have seen their insurance cover halved.
The lack of export credit was more acute at the end of last year than it is now and almost brought world trade to a full stop. Credit remains scarce and expensive.
Jean-Pierre Garnier, BPEX / EBLEX Export Manager