Red meat producers are cautiously optimistic

Large-scale red meat exports from Namibia and Botswana have scaled down, which is likely to push weaner prices up.

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This is according to North West chairperson of the Red Meat Producers’ Organisation, Flip le Roux, who added that weaner prices had fluctuated from as low as R14/kg in the first two quarters of 2013 to R18/kg in the last quarter of 2013. At the time of going to print, the weaner price was R17/ kg. Le Roux expected the price to increase to R18/kg in 2014.

“However, my wish for 2014 is that the government starts applying its own legislation to curb the uncontrolled exports from our neighbouring countries. The oversupply forced prices down, which caused us considerable harm, given the fact that we had to sell at any cost because of the drought,” he said.

Feed costs, one of the factors affecting meat producers’ profitability, is closely linked to transport costs, which increases with fuel price increases. Cattle auctioneer André Kock from Vryburg did not expect A-Grade carcass prices to increase much in 2014. “We’re still in a recession. Consumers are moving away from red meat as a source of protein. But there’s nothing like good rains to give cattlemen hope,” he said.

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Read: A year of extraordinary weather

Bronkhorstspruit red meat producer Dieter Labuschagne said the many recent strikes were set to affect the sector. “Large-scale labour unrest might force consumers to other cheaper sources of protein. But the red meat industry has always been one of the most unpredictable agricultural sectors, and 2014 is the most unpredictable year so far.”

The National Emergent Red Meat Producers’ Organisation CEO, Dr Langelihle Simela, said he hoped for an index-based insurance product against losses caused by drought.

Follow updates on Twitter: #FWoutlook2014