Expect More Hike In Meat Price As Drought Lingers


Drought has caused the South African nation a lot especially in terms of food production. We have had series of reports on drastic shortage of most South Africa’s farm products ranging from maize, potatoes, milk and lots more. This time, reports say meat price will in a short while, be affected.

South Africa’s livestock farmers are preparing to face more losses as the year gets drier plunging death rates of livestock to rise.

According to Gerhard Schutte, the chief executive officer of South Africa’s Red Meat Producers Organisation, lack of animal feed and scarce grazing field for animals could cause a second livestock selloff during winter after similar conditions caused an oversupply during most of the summer months.

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Speaking further in a phone conversation, Schutte said supply shortage could prevail from September and could grow worse if good rain fails to fall before that time as farmers retain animals to rebuild their herds.

“If the new season is a good rainy season, prices will start going crazy,” Lardus van Zyl, chairperson of the meat producers’ body, said via phone conversation. “Not only will the abattoirs be looking for animals, but so will farmers who seek proper breeding stock.” Schutte said

This warning on possible hike in meat price came following the continuous decrease in rain falls in the state with last year having the least rain fall since records started in 1904.

Records has it that prices of food products has more than doubled to 8.8 percent in February while that of meat was more subdued at 5.5 percent in the same period due to the selloff in animals.

Schutte further noted that South Africa’s cattle herd under normal circumstances, is estimated at 13.6 million animals, 7.9 million of which are kept by commercial producers and the rest by subsistence farmers.

The sheep herd accounts for 24.6 million animals while that of goats is estimated 5.6 million, but so far, commercial farmers’ stocks have been reduced by 5% due to the drought while subsistence owners witnessed losses of about 10% on average.

However, Omri van Zyl, the CEO of farmers’ lobby group AGRI SA, said in an interview at Bloomberg’s offices in Johannesburg that it will take about three to four years to rebuild herds under good climatic conditions and good funding of about R6 billion ($408 million) to R20 billion.

“We need a subsidy for herd-rebuilding purposes,” Van Zyl said. “The national herd has shrunk. There’s only so much you can do to rebuild it and that’s under normal climatic conditions…Livestock farmers alone require about R4 billion” Van Zyl said.

“To curb food-price inflation, we’re going to have to put the guys in a position where they were last year, before the drought,”

Meanwhile, Pierre Spies, managing director of agribusiness GWK, told reporters in Kimberley in the Northern Cape province that there has been a low turn out of meat buyers in the recent times due to the high cost of the products. “We are still expecting meat price to rise again,” Spies concluded.

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