Warning on meat price hikes

Mkhululi Ndamase

HEALTHY CHANGE: Director of Animal Health Dr Mpho Maja, left, and Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Tina Joemat-Pettersson address the media on the lifting of the ban on SA red meat exports Picture: GCIS
HEALTHY CHANGE: Director of Animal Health Dr Mpho Maja, left, and Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Tina Joemat-Pettersson address the media on the lifting of the ban on SA red meat exports Picture: GCIS

THE price of red meat is likely to increase by at least 6% this year as the industry anticipates a rise in demand from international buyers.

The Eastern Cape Red Meat Producers’ Organisation sounded this warning yesterday following the lifting of an export ban on South African red meat instituted due to an outbreak of foot and mouth disease three years ago.

The ban had cost the industry about R3-billion a year in exports over the past three years, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said yesterday.

Eastern Cape Red Meat Producers’ Organisation chairman Dr Pieter Prinsloo said consumers could be in for a price-hike shock.

“With the rand-dollar variation, the fuel and electricity price going up drastically and the demand for meat, I think in the second half of the year, there will be price hikes of between 6% and 8%.

“The worst is over now but we want the consumer to eat red meat. We are very happy about the ban being lifted. In the past three years farming took a huge knock and we are looking at buyer security now,” Prinsloo said.

However, Agri Eastern Cape president Ernest Pringle said he did not believe there would be a price increase, as farmers did not determine prices.

Agri Eastern Cape was hopeful the lifting of the ban would improve meat exporting, Pringle said.

“The meat price should remain unaltered, in my opinion at least. Producers are only taking in 40% of the price. It’s not the producers who determine the price – it’s retailers and processors.”

On Friday, the International Animal Health Organisation declared South Africa to be free of foot and mouth disease, but said it would continue to ensure that the required measures were fully implemented in the disease control areas of Mpumalanga, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal.

Joemat-Pettersson said yesterday to prevent and manage the disease, the government would build a R500-million state-of-the- art veterinary institute in Pretoria. It would be used to train researchers, to equip them to manage the disease.

Young scientists would be recruited to do post-graduate studies and research as another way of dealing with animal health.

Twenty-seven fully equipped mobile clinics with operating theatres would be deployed to all provinces and would bring veterinary services to rural areas where they had not previously been, Joemat-Pettersson said.

Construction work on a vaccine production facility was at an advanced stage and, once completed, it would strengthen the department’s disease management systems, she said.

Prinsloo said the lifting of the ban meant Eastern Cape farmers would export to China, Japan, India, Australia, America, Botswana and Namibia.

“There is also a huge demand for halaal meat in Arab countries like the UAE.”

He said farmers in the Eastern Cape had been struggling for eight of the last 10 years because of natural disasters like fires, drought and snow.

“I had to cut down on two members of my staff of 12 this year. Farming is not as good as everyone thinks, but we believe this will be a better season because of the [extra] demand,” Prinsloo said.

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