Peter Duggan, Strategic Information Services, Bord Bia-Irish Food Board
The global beef landscape continues to evolve as India is expected to overtake the top three traditional exporters of Australia, Brazil and the US in 2012 on the back of an 11% increase in beef output.
Indian beef output is being boosted by further expansion of their dairy herd, efficiency improvements and increased carcase weights. Production for 2012 is expected to total 3.5 million tonnes. In the context of higher prices amongst the key global exporters, India remains relatively competitively priced while halal production standards are also boosting exports. The USDA predict that Indian exports will increase by 25% to 1.53 million tonnes in 2012. This rate of increase is partly down to domestic demand being hampered by poor cold-chain facilities and consumer preference for non-bovine products.
However, it should be noted that Indian beef exports are exclusively deboned frozen buffalo meat. These exports are being targeted at Middle Eastern, North African and South East Asian markets where their lean and positive blending characteristics are important to processors.
Other developments reported by the USDA in their latest global report include:
- Brazilian consumption growth in 2012 at 2.5% to remain ahead of the 2% rise anticipated in output. This is expected to leave Brazilian exports virtually unchanged.
- The US will remain the world’s largest beef producer, although output is forecast to fall by over 4% to 11.5 million tonnes in 2012, reflecting lower calf births in 2009 and 2010. US calf births in 2012 are forecast to fall by a further 2% to 34.5 million head in 2012, which follows the lowest calf births since 1950 being recorded in 2011.
- The USDA is expecting US beef imports to increase by 19% to 1.1 million tonnes in 2012.
- Exports are expected to increase by 10% and 3% to 280,000 tonnes and 315,000 tonnes in Argentina and Uruguay respectively. Albeit exports from both these countries are still well below levels recorded during the middle of the past decade.
- Australian output is expected to increase by 2% to 2.2 million tonnes on the back of expected improved pasture conditions and fodder supplies. Although due to the strengthening in Australian Dollars, exports are expected to increase by just 1% to 1.43 million tonnes.
The prospects for global cattle prices for the remainder of 2012 remain strong as increased import demand in emerging markets such as Russia, Vietnam, Venezuela, Mexico, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. This combined with supplies expected to fall by 1% from the key global producers (Brazil, Argentina, Australia, EU-27 and the US) is expected to create good competition for export supplies. This has been reflected in cattle prices to date across the globe with US, Argentina, Australia and Uruguay showing increases of 18%, 13%, 8% and 7% respectively in male cattle prices compared to a year earlier levels.