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Expect to pay more for red meat - cattle farmers

| Economic factors

Mpumalanga red meat producers have dismissed recent reports that meat prices will fall between 8% and 15% over the festive season.

Red Meat Producers’ Organisation provincial chair Koos Dafel said the price of red meat will in fact increase as a result of the ongoing drought which is affecting South Africa’s most important beef-producing areas.

“A-grade beef, which is what the majority of South Africans will use for braai, has gone up because the cattle are very weak and don’t have much meat on them. This will continue over the coming months until we receive proper rain in around March next year,” said Dafel.

Dafel said most red meat stocked in supermarkets have increased by up to R5/kg over the past few months. He added that the prices of C-grade beef, which is largely delivered to factories for use in processed meat, will, however, drop slightly.

“There is a lot of lower quality beef around due to the drought and farmers having to slaughter animals in poor condition, so the price of this meat is dropping by a few percent. But it is a misconception that supermarket meat prices will drop,” Dafel said.

Dafel’s comments come after FNB senior agricultural economist Paul Makube announced that consumers in South Africa will be able to buy meat at 8% to 15% less this festive season.

“The price of red meat at a retail level is expected to fall by 8% – 15% between December and January next year, as more animals are being slaughtered by farmers, leading to an oversupply of meat in the short-term,” Makube said.

Dafel explained that some relief from the drought was provided to major meat-producing areas in Mpumalanga in the past week.

“Farms received between 15mm and 50mm of rain on Wednesday, which made everyone much happier, but farmers are still struggling to survive. I have personally had to auction off cattle at reduced prices,” he said.

He added that farmers who have cut their cattle herds by between 10% and 20% will have to wait several years to rebuild them.

“Cattle are also not reproducing as they should. Females will only get pregnant after the rains, so it will be another nine months after that time that we can expect to see calves,” Dafel said.

Mpumalanga contributes approximately 20% of South Africa’s overall beef production, which is around 150 000 tonnes.

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