Global supplies of red meat to 'remain tight'

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Red meat supplies could face global challenges
Red meat supplies could face global challenges

Related tags Supply chain

Changes in supply patterns could lead to a limited supply of red meat – particularly beef – on the global market, a new report from Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) has predicted.

The report, which is part of the red meat levy body’s ‘Between the Lines’​ series of market insights, concludes that global supplies of beef will remain tight for the short to medium term, due to below average production in the EU and US specifically, firm domestic demand in the US, and elevated import demand from China and the rest of Asia.

With food security rising up the agenda in the wake of international crises and rising prices, HCC said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is also impacting trade flows and has led to fuel, grain and fertiliser prices rising significantly. 

However, the HCC report shows more positive news for UK red meat moving forward. 

British beef herd

HCC’s report analyses figures that show that the beef herd in Britain could experience modest growth over the next year. It said the domestic cattle sector produces fewer emissions than the global average, therefore a greater reliance on UK-produced beef may help both in terms of food security and sustainability.

It highlights British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) data which suggests a modest increase in future cattle supply in the UK market, especially in the second half of 2022 and further ahead into 2023, which could help the UK play its part in alleviating potential shortages of beef. 

Report author Glesni Phillips from HCC said: “Farmers are already feeling the effect of rising energy and input costs, but the changes in global trading patterns will take some time to hit the markets, with the average deadweight price of steers and cull cows in particular reaching record highs last week.

“By looking at production in key beef producing regions, we can see that a range of global and local factors may limit the supply onto the world market, with obvious implications for food security.”

Sheep Meat

The report said that global supplies of sheep meat are expected to be larger than they have been with Australia forecast to see increased production following a near 5% rise in the size of the national flock. 

The recovery of China’s pig herd following outbreaks of African Swine Fever could lead to more New Zealand lamb being re-directed and imported into Europe and the UK again, HCC said. 

Glesni added: “Another key factor which could be significant in terms of red meat consumption will be consumer purchasing patterns. As inflation continues to rise, it is difficult to forecast demand for red meat as consumers feel the squeeze on their household expenditure.

“In addition, sustainability concerns could also affect consumer purchasing habits. But here in Wales, despite what is happening elsewhere in the world, we can have confidence in the fact that the ‘Welsh Way’ of farming is potentially an answer to both food security and sustainability. We are well placed to make the most of the natural resources we have in terms of grassland management to produce healthy flocks and herds and high quality, traceable products.”

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