Bengal meat shines after Envoy joins hands
Fresh, Halal, Hygienic – a quest for Bengal Meat has begun to bring safe, quality meat to the global market. But it was not a safe bet. With many obstacles ranging from no unsecured loan to lack of recognition of the country, they eventually turned to serving local consumers.
In 2011, Sheltech Group partnered with Bengal Meat, and fortune finally began to smile on them after 12 years of its inception, thanks to the prioritization of the local market and the introduction of new, value-added meat products.
The meat producer and processor now plans to maintain consistency to build on a good âbalance sheetâ and to be listed on the stock exchange – so that the company ensures sustainable growth.
âWe recorded profit for the first time before the Covid outbreak. Although the profit graph declined slightly during the pandemic, we are still up,â Bengal Meat chairman Kutubuddin Ahmed told The Business Standard.
Aiming to export safe meat to Muslim-majority countries in the Gulf, Bangladeshi expatriate Mazharul Islam and his friends established the company in 2006. Access to bank loans and international meat export compliance.
Bengal then produced healthy meat for foreign buyers.
The company repeatedly issued property shares to stay afloat, but the policy was not very successful until real estate agent Sheltech Group entered the meat business.
Envoy Group represents 40 companies ranging from apparel, textiles, real estate, hospitality services and consumer products with annual sales of $ 400 million and a workforce of approximately 21,000.
The Chairman of Lanka Bangla Finance Ltd, Mohammad A Moyeen, is Managing Director of Bengal Meat, Abdus Salam Murshedy, Managing Director of Envoy Group, and Mahbubul Anam, Vice Chairman of Bangladesh Cricket Board, and Chairman of Modern Hospital Anowar Khan Hossain Khan is one of the 12 investors.
The overhaul of the property that year resulted in some major policy changes, such as a shift to the local market to focus solely on exporting and developing premium steak-like products.
The changes seemed to work perfectly as Bengal started to show profits afterwards. Currently, 80% of Bengal products are destined for the local market through 40 outlets at the district level, as 20% of the items are destined for export to Dubai, Maldives and Kuwait.
The company’s products now include beef, mutton, poultry and other bird meats. Primary products are the typical meats used for currying, while specially cut meats are for steaks, processed dishes, ready-to-cook marinated meats, frozen snacks, ready-to-eat, and reheat-and-eat meals. .
Its current annual production is around 400 tonnes of safe meat – an international meat sales standard involving fresh and hygienic livestock keeping on safe meat displays in supermarkets.
As part of an expansion offering, Bengal is now adding fish products to its menu by outsourcing to fish farmers working with WorldFish. The company says it is also working on poultry production and processing capacity.
Bengal officials say maintaining “safe” compliance results in production and processing costs of 10 to 15 percent of normal. But with home production, the prices, they say, have to be affordable for people in retail outlets.
Uncompromising quality sailed Bengal through tough times
After its establishment in 2006, Bengal devoted most of its capital to technological upgrading. The company was also denied a bank loan due to collateral issues, in addition to facing export barriers due to international compliances and the lack of government-to-government agreements (G2G ) of Bangladesh with the Gulf countries.
Mazharul brought in potential buyers from Malaysia, Dubai and other countries on his own to show them how meats are processed. He hired foreign technicians and experts to achieve meat processing standards even when the business suffered losses.
Subsequently, the company signed business-to-business agreements for access to the Dubai market, which also facilitates access to the Gulf countries.
But that wasn’t enough to stay afloat and show profits. In 2014, some of the co-founders started to leave Mazhar, intensifying the business pressure he was facing.
But the founder of Bengal, Mazharul Islam, has not given up on quality. Instead, he started looking for new investors to fill the empty chairs.
Newcomers have joined the company, invested money in meat processing, obtained halal certification from Indonesia and are now dealing with Bengal.
“Carry the meat, not the animal”: safe meat is sophisticated
Bengal Meat staff said their cattle are raised in stress-free grazing environments to ensure the end product – safe meat. Cattle must be raised and processed where they were born. Meat can only be transported, not cattle, as any travel will stress the cattle and lead to lactic acid in the cattle which will ultimately ruin the quality of the meat.
âThe journey of Bengal Meat started with an export focus only and the processing units were developed accordingly. We always maintain strict quality, from picking the cow to displaying the meat in the outlets. sale, âBengal Meat CEO AFM Asif told TBS.
He said the cattle would mainly undergo physical check and the meat must be qualified for clearance testing by veterinarians after slaughter. Livestock suppliers will only receive the prizes if their animals pass the quality test.
In strictly refrigerated and sterilized industrial environments, the slaughtered animal will be kept below 5 degrees Celsius.
Then the butchers will start their work where the temperature should not exceed 12 degrees Celsius.
Bengal staff say they are constantly checking the temperature of the butcher shop, supply chain and outlets to ensure nutritional ingredients remain intact.
Asif said most of the farmers are now quite aware of the quality and hygiene. “They believe us, because many young entrepreneurs raise cattle exclusively for Bengal,” he noted.
The founders of Bengal chose Pabna – one of the country’s renowned cattle breeding centers – to set up the meat processing plant. In addition to meat processing, the company now has a forage and research field on 30 acres of land.
Previously, the company collected livestock from traders. But now the local farmers contact the company themselves and sell the cattle to the company.
The company’s supply chain has more than 1,000 farmers, while Bengal’s own barns still have between 500 and 1,000 head of cattle.
“They [farmers] know that we guarantee at least their minimum profit. So they don’t have to worry about the price, âsaid CEO Asif.
The company trains cattle ranchers and teaches them what livestock should be supplied at what age. With the guidelines, they deliver the exact cattle to Bengal.
In addition, the farmers, the non-bank financial institution IPDC and Bengal have entered into a tripartite agreement under which cattle ranchers can benefit from loans with Bengal Meat as guarantor.
Asif said a number of beef farms have been established at the center of the Bengal processing unit. âIt’s about building trust. They know that doing business with Bengal is hassle-free. ”
He said the meat producer’s research and development wing was researching six air-borne livestock diseases.
Although Bengal’s paid-in capital is around Tk 116 crore, its current investment in shares stands at Tk 250 crore. In addition, up to 600 people now work in the company.
Only for the elite?
When Bengal focused on the local market, it targeted five-star hotels that imported red meat. The meat processor established the brand as an alternative to this import. Many hotels now take the meat of the company.
But expanding the customer base to the general public is still a challenge due to retail pricing, Asif said.
“Healthy meat costs 60-70 Tk per kg than regular meat, and a lot of people are unwilling to pay for it,” he commented, adding that maintaining the cold chain requires a “cost. huge”.
To remedy this, Bengal signed a technology development agreement with the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet).
The company says it also faces many political hurdles. Banks treat Bengal like a processor and charge interest accordingly, while the company claims it is just “an extended version of grassroots beef farming.”
Another concern of the company is the importation of frozen buffalo meat from India. This imported item is cheaper than regular beef, and restaurants are its main buyer.
âBengal is still alive because shareholders and financiers are emotionally involved in it. Otherwise, they were supposed to go a long time ago because of the huge costs of food security,â Asif said.