European horsemeat scandal cuts Doly-Com’s exports by 20 percent

Newsroom 08/04/2013 | 05:29

Romanian meat-processing company Doly-Com is targeting a EUR 34 million turnover this year, close to the level reported in 2012, given the evolution of the purchasing power as well as the recent horsemeat scandal. After the producer was wrongfully accused of having been one of the players responsible for the mislabeling of horsemeat as beef this February, its exports dropped by about 20 percent, said Iulian Cazacut (in picture), Doly-Com’s owner and general manager.

The company runs an abattoir in Roma, a village near Botosani in north-eastern Romania, where it processes beef (50 percent of production), pork (45 percent of production) and horsemeat (5 percent). Doly-Com says its abattoir is the largest for cattle and horses in the country, and it is also the largest fresh meat-packaging plant.

Some 90 percent of the firm’s exports consist of beef, while the rest are horsemeat, which the company started processing and selling abroad in 2011 after seeing demand from Western Europe. Doly-Com’s main export markets are Austria, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Sweden, Germany and Bulgaria as well as countries outside the EU.

Despite the recent scandal, Cazacut says exports will continue to be a focus even if demand for horsemeat has fallen in response to public opinion. Sold volumes have dropped and some contracts were suspended. “Nevertheless, things are evolving in a positive direction, but it takes time and the involvement of the authorities,” said Vasile Urzica, Doly-Com’s strategy and development manager.

The company estimates the Romanian beef market to be worth some EUR 70-80 million this year, whereas the average Romanian eats 60 kilos of meat per year, half of which is pork, about 35 percent is poultry while beef accounts for 10 percent. One of Doly-Com’s strategies for the local market is to promote its own brands of freshly packaged beef.

The horsemeat scandal: the producer’s perspective

It all started in early February in the UK after horsemeat was found in products labeled as containing only beef, but soon spread to the rest of Europe.

The Romanian meat industry undeservedly found itself in the spotlight in the early phase of the scandal after local processors – later identified as Carmolimp and Doly-Com – were initially accused by the French authorities of mislabeling meat. It was later revealed that in fact French meat- processing company Spanghero was the guilty party.

Cazacut said he first heard the accusations on the morning of Saturday, February 9, and by Monday had put together all the paperwork and electronic registrations necessary for the Romanian authorities’ investigation. Documents proved that the exported horsemeat left the Bacau abattoir labeled correctly.

“As we exported both beef and horsemeat we had to prove we weren’t responsible for any mislabeling. We immediately understood that we had to react quickly, to be open and have a well documented response in order not to leave room for any doubts,” said the GM, adding that, in his opinion, the authorities handled the scandal properly.

The same Monday, the company sent emails to all its European clients informing them about the situation and recommending DNA tests at Doly-Com’s expense for the already exported beef in order to reassure them. No problems were found, says the 45-year-old entrepreneur, who has invested some EUR 10 million in the business since setting it up in 1997.

Over the following days, Doly-Com’s management was busy with numerous visits from international media outlets. Most of the journalists who came to the Bacau meat-processing facility were taken aback by

the abattoir’s technological level, says the GM., adding that he found the subsequent media coverage to be objective.

Simona Bazavan

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