LOCAL CONSUMPTION still dominates red meat market
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
IF WEANER PRICES REMAIN AT R30/ KG, PRODUCERS CAN STILL PROFIT