LO­CAL CON­SUMP­TION still dom­i­nates red meat mar­ket

Farmer's Weekly (South Africa) - - Contents -

Keep­ing abreast of the lo­cal red meat mar­ket’s pref­er­ences is still the main pri­or­ity for the red meat sec­tor. This was ac­cord­ing to Ger­hard Schutte, the CEO of the Red Meat Pro­duc­ers’ Or­gan­i­sa­tion (RPO). Schutte said that de­spite grow­ing ex­port op­por­tu­ni­ties, es­pe­cially for beef, 95% of South African beef and lamb were still sold to lo­cal con­sumers.

Tough eco­nomic con­di­tions and a high un­em­ploy­ment rate did, how­ever, mean that red meat pro­duc­ers could not ex­pect lo­cal con­sumers to pay ex­or­bi­tant prices for red meat in the com­ing year. Schutte said that there were a num­ber of con­cerns for the com­ing sea­son, in­clud­ing a pos­si­ble El Niño weather event that could re­sult in high maize prices. Pro­duc­ers were still re­build­ing their herds, and pro­ducer prices were also slightly lower than a year ago. “Red meat pro­duc­ers are fight­ing for a [share] of the con­sumer’s plate. Cheap poul­try im­ports is a con­stant con­cern. It will be in­ter­est­ing to see what the ef­fect of the 45% tar­iff on im­ported poul­try will be.” De­spite these chal­lenges, Schutte was pos­i­tive about the next five years, and said the in­dus­try was “tak­ing the fu­ture into its own hands” and work­ing to­wards bet­ter trace­abil­ity sys­tems.

The lo­cal beef mar­ket was in­ter­na­tion­ally com­pet­i­tive and needed to re­main so by en­sur­ing the health of lo­cal herds. This would guar­an­tee con­tin­ued ex­ports, with an in­crease in ex­ports to China and the UK seem­ing likely, he said.

Ac­cord­ing to Ri­aan Ran­dles, a cat­tle and sheep pro­ducer in the Verkyk­er­skop area in the Free State, his big­gest on-farm chal­lenge in 2019 would be the weather.

“A good amount of rain means good pro­duc­tion, and a bad rainy sea­son means bad pro­duc­tion. One of my ear­lier ad­van­tages was that I al­ways re­ceived rain be­fore other re­gions and could get my weaner calves to mar­ket sooner than other pro­duc­ers. But the sea­son is look­ing dire and I may only be able to get my calves to mar­ket dur­ing the same pe­riod as oth­ers,” he said.

Ran­dles said if cur­rent weaner calf prices re­mained at about R30/kg, pro­duc­ers would be able to con­tinue mak­ing a profit in the fu­ture. – Ger­hard Uys


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