A meat price war looms in Hong Kong, according to an industry source on Wednesday, a day after an immediate suspension of all meat imports from Brazil over health concerns with talk percolating that supply contracts may be torn up and tons of meat thrown away.
The move by Hong Kong's Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) came on Tuesday, together with several other countries, including China, the European Union and Canada, which had announced partial or full import bans on Brazilian meat.
Restaurants and meat suppliers scrambled in Hong Kong on Wednesday after the surprise ban that has called into question the fate of existing stocks of chicken and other meats that for now are no longer on the menu at some establishments until clarity is gained, according to an industry source.
"Hotels and restaurants have contacted importers to look at the possibility of tearing up contracts, which would result in hundreds of tons of virtually worthless meat and trigger a price war," said a Hong Kong-based meat industry executive who declined to be named.
"Hong Kong imports a vast majority of meat from overseas. Other countries can cope but Hong Kong can't."
China is the largest consumer of Brazilian meat, followed by Hong Kong, according to Reuters.