Experts are warning the Australian meat industry that the current surge it has experienced in light of Europe's meat crisis will not last forever. The opportunities that have opened up while European farmers battle with BSE and foot and mouth will be small and temporary, according to several industry sources.

Over 70 countries around the world have banned imports of meat from the EU, but the problem comes because restrictions placed on trade in beef, pork and sheep are so strong that new export opportunities are tightly contested.

Furthermore, while the EU is potentially a fertile market for Australian exports, harsh restrictions are in place on the amounts of meat that can be sold. The export quota in this instance has been set at 7000 tonnes, amounting to 2% of the beef that is sold to other markets such as Japan or the US. Similarly, exports of lamb and mutton are restricted to 18,650 tonnes.

New opportunities are opening up in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and North Africa however, markets which were formally dominated by EU exports. Australia is as able to fill these niches as other low cost producers such as Canada, the US or Uruguay.