Up to 90 percent of beef in Latvia's stores and markets is of unclear origin or smuggled, Beef Cattle Breeders' Association head Rihards Valtenbergs says.
"There are large quantities of beef in stores and on markets. At the same time, there are only few farms supplying meat. Where does this beef come from? It does not come from Europe, where it is five times more expensive. The answer is simple - this beef is of unclear origin or smuggled. The gray share of Latvia's beef market amounts to around 90 percent, and it is very difficult to solve this situation since smugglers have learned how to make everything look good on paper," says Valtenbergs in an interview with nozare.lv.
There are also 30 to 40 percent gray shares in the alcohol and tobacco industries. However, violations are established much more frequently there, since large producers are interested and perhaps even pay extra for looking for smuggled goods, admits Valtenbergs.
Cattle breeders turned to the Economy Police in 2004, requesting assistance. The association, however, was told to catch smugglers on its own. Several years ago, a company was caught in Saldus Region. Nevertheless, this happened only because it was busted by the State Revenue Service for not paying taxes.
To jointly seek a solution to this problem, the Beef Cattle Breeders' Association and the Agricultural Organizations' Cooperation Council have addressed the management of the Food and Veterinary Service and the State Revenue Service, points out Valtenbergs.
Valtenbergs believes that, despite these problems, the industry has good prospects and the number of beef cattle breeders could double in the next couple of years.