Eblex warns of continued beef and veal output falls

Beef and veal output could continue to decline, following a 2% average fall in major producing countries in 2009, Eblex is warning.

Eblex’s latest bi-annual International Meat Market Review shows that all major beef-producing countries saw similar reductions in production levels, with the exception of Argentina.

The fall is attributed to producers reducing their breeding herds, resulting in high cow slaughterings, while prime cattle slaughterings are in decline. This applies especially to the US and the EU, Eblex added.

In Argentina, increased production in 2009 resulted from herd liquidation in response to government policies to control beef prices and the drought of 2008 and 2009. This, in turn, will result in severe shortages of cattle available for slaughter in 2010, down by 21%, with low calving rates in 2008 and 2009 making the situation worse.

Joanne Knowles, AHDB red meat market intelligence manager, said: “The global economic downturn is continuing to result in weaker demand for beef, especially in developed economies, with the foodservice sector especially affected.

“Consumers are cutting down on their discretionary spending, while household purchases are holding up somewhat better. They are trading down to cheaper cuts, so weakening the hindquarter market in particular, and also cheaper sources of protein. This fall in demand has reduced cattle prices, but intensive producers have benefited from lower global cereal prices.”

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