“Consumers are spending less as they save for the festive season, and this means there’s an excess of animals on the market,” said Red Meat Industry Forum chairperson Dave Ford. “The beef conversion ratio is the best its ever been, and so a lot of people bought animals without wondering if they’d have a market for them. “It might be cheap to produce beef now, but the bottom line is, if the product doesn’t pass the till, we don’t have a business.” Ford said producers must become better acquainted with the market to survive.
“Security issues mean fewer people eat out at night, and in many housing complexes braai facilities are limited. We also live in a time when people are no longer on rys, vleis and aartappels health consciousness is growing, as are ethical concerns. You can no longer pull a calf out of a cow with a bakkie.”Biosecurity is the biggest single threat to the industry, he said. “State capacity in this regard is increasingly doubtful. We all have to accept the concept of ‘user pay’ for services, such as CA and TB testing,” he said. “With the current slump in state research capacity we’re going to have to fund research ourselves and know that to receive information we must provide it first.”