WINDHOEK: Namibia’s beef trade decreased with 28.8 per cent during the first six months of 2012, the Meat Board of Namibia revealed in its six-month review report issued on Monday.
“This negative performance was mainly due to a number of weaners exported, and worsened by lower slaughter numbers at export abattoirs. Various economic factors recently also had an impact on the producer prices,” the report noted.
These economic factors include Botswana not having market access to the European Union (EU) and selling its excess beef, creating an oversupply; high feed prices putting feedlots in South Africa under pressure; and consumers’ resistance to the high prices of meat due to the compressed disposable incomes of consumers.
The decrease in the exports of weaners is mainly attributed to the decline in weaner prices, while the increased cost of production and decreased demand for beef had a major impact on weaner prices.
Because of transport and other costs, Namibian weaner prices are normally lower than those of weaner prices in South Africa.
However, during the 12-month period (July 2011 to June 2012), the Namibian weaner price was on average N.dollars 0.73 higher than the South African weaner price.
The biggest price increase was in January when the price increased by 23.6 per cent, compared to July 2011.
According to the Meat Board’s assessment, prices for weaners on auctions decreased significantly since the beginning of the year as a result of high maize prices, which was reinforced by a decrease in the demand for beef as substitution products such as lamb had a significant decline in prices.
Prices are expected to move upwards for the third quarter, maintaining its new lower price level.
The analysis stated that it is clear that the Namibian producer price is currently competitive, compared to the South African producer prices.
A total of 113 277 cattle were marketed during the first six months of 2012.
Export volumes of beef carcasses and cuts during the reporting period were 10 500 tonnes, with an estimated value of N.dollars 382 million, while the total value of exports, including carcasses, cuts and live exports is estimated at N.dollars 582 million.
This is significantly lower, compared to the same period in 2011.
No cattle or beef were imported as a result of the food-and-mouth-disease (FMD) outbreak in South Africa, as well as the partial ban applied by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry on the importation of beef.
On slaughtering at export abattoirs, the review indicated that the Witvlei abattoir slaughtered 4 738 head of cattle, while Meatco abattoirs slaughtered 47 211 head of cattle.
The highest utilisation of slaughter capacity was reached at the Windhoek abattoir – a total of 70 per cent of the total capacity – while Witvlei only utilised 34 per cent of its capacity.
In the Northern Communal Areas (NCAs), the Katima abattoir only slaughtered the remaining cattle in quarantine in May due to the FMD outbreak in November 2011.
On exports to Angola, the Meat Board stated that exports decreased due to restrictions imposed by the MAWF in an attempt to limit the export of genetic material to that neighbouring country.
The restriction only allows for five cattle to be exported per exporter per year.
The Meat Board also expressed concern about the difficulties in monitoring the export of cattle to Angola because of the open border situation.
However, the movement of cattle through the veterinary cordon fence (Oshivelo and Werda) gates are used as an indicator, and clearly showed a significant decline since the year 2010.
The Meat Board noted that Namibia was not competitive, compared to its major competitors in the second quarter of 2012, as producer prices of Australia, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil were significantly higher in the second quarter of 2012.
Cattle exports represent 41 per cent of market share, followed by export abattoirs south of the veterinary cordon fence with 45 per cent.
Export abattoirs north of the veterinary cordon fence represent three per cent, while the local abattoirs have increased their market share to 11 per cent.