Promoted by the National Federation of Autochthonous Breed Associations (FERA), in partnership with 11 producer groups, the project aims to increase the intensity of exports from the current 3.67 percent to 8.07 percent at the end of 2022.
The initiative brings together eight native bovine breeds (arouquesa, barrosã, cachena, Marinhaa, Maronesa, Mertolenga, Minho and Mirandese), one goat (mountain), another sheep (Mirandese churra) and the Bísara swine breed.
It aims to promote the “quality and safety of meat and products based on Portuguese meat, from animals fed on natural pastures, from rural areas, raised without productive stress, which provides unique characteristics and flavour to the meat”, said a spokesman from FERA.
Portuguese Meat focuses mainly on producer groups in the North (81.82 percent), also extending to the Centre and the Alentejo (regions with 9.09 percent each).
The project has a total investment of about €615,000, co-financed at 55.25 percent by European funds under Compete2020.
Rui Dantas, president of the Federation founded in 2000, stated that Portuguese Meat arises from the “success” of the implementation of the previous project (Portuguese Beef) “which contributed to the creation and promotion of a brand common for indigenous Portuguese beef with a view to its internationalisation”.
In addition to promoting the common brand, the “great merit” of Portuguese Beef “was the creation of a working group formed by the groups of producers of these meats”, said Rui Dantas.
The official highlights that there are 50 indigenous breeds in Portugal: 15 of cattle, 16 of sheep, six of goats, three of pigs, four of horses, two of donkeys and four of chickens, and that FERA represents “more than half” of these breeds.
“Currently, the overwhelming majority of Portuguese animal products with community protection are based on indigenous breeds”, maintained Rui Dantas, stating that, “despite their differences and specificities, all breeds are obtained with high quality standards, food safety, respect for the environment and fair trade”.
“We can experience differences in flavour, firmness and juiciness, resulting from different breeds, food and management. But in all of them we can experience culture, traditions and nature.”
Speaking by videoconference, Carla Pereira, director of the Regional Directorate for Agriculture and Northern Fisheries (DRAPN), praised the “noble objective” of the Portuguese Meat programme by aiming it at “recognition abroad”.
Defining the project as “well structured, with many activities and very ambitious”, Carla Pereira stressed that the “most important” objective of Portuguese Meat is the “greater income” for Portuguese farmers and the added value in the markets.