Insight - Extended shelf-life for chilled, vacuum-packed beef and sheep-meat exports to Saudi Arabia

In February 2021, Saudi Arabia extended the shelf-life of chilled vacuum-packed beef and sheep-meat.

An extended shelf-life can make Australian exports more competitive in market by allowing products to remain on sale for longer, leading to reduced wastage and higher returns for retailers.

The shelf-life extensions for chilled vacuum-packed meat imported to Saudi Arabia are:

  • Beef – increased to 120 days from 70 days*
  • Sheep-meat – increased to 90 days from 70 days.

As a regional leader on food standards, Saudi Arabia is supporting the development of standards implemented by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Gulf Standards Organisation (GSO) to extend the shelf-life for chilled vacuum-packed meat across the Gulf States. Other Gulf States such as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar may consider changing their regulations to align with published GSO standards.

What exporters should do

Producers and exporters should contact their Middle Eastern importers or Austrade to explore potential opportunities for meat exports to Saudi Arabia and the broader Middle East region. They should continue to monitor the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment’s Market Access Advice notices (log-in required) for further updates to shelf-life regulations.


Selected Middle Eastern country imports of beef and sheep-meat and current shelf-life for imported chilled vacuum-packed meat

Total chilled beef and sheep-meat imports 1 2019 (US$) Maximum shelf-life for chilled vacuum-packed beef Maximum shelf-life for chilled vacuum-packed sheep-meat
United Arab Emirates $344 million 120 days 90 days
Saudi Arabia $199 million 120 days 90 days
Jordan $109 million 120 days (COVID temp extension) 120 days (COVID temp extension)
Lebanon 2 $102 million 84 days (trial) 3 84 days (trial) 3
Kuwait $49 million 90 days 90 days
Qatar $48 million 90 days 90 days
Oman 2 $21 million 120 days 90 days
Bahrain 2 $17 million 70 days 70 days

1 HS '0201.20, HS '0201.30, HS '0204.22 and HS '0204.23
2 2018 figures used to supplement missing data
3 Temporary extension ceased on 14 April 2021, extension under negotiation
Source: UNComtrade

For further information and assistance, contact Dr David Kim Counsellor (Agriculture) Dubai.

Import requirements for the Middle East region are available through the Manual of Importing Country Requirements website.

Additional information about the Middle East market is available on the Austrade website.

*Saudi Arabia initially extended the chilled-vacuum packed beef shelf-life limit to 90 days before quickly extending to 120 days.