Food Outlook – Meat and Meat Products

Global meat markets in 2012 are expected to see a recovery of supplies in traditionally importing countries and strong competition for markets, according to the latest Food Outlook report from FAO. Near record prices are constraining consumption growth.
calendar icon 11 May 2012
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Meat Prices Hover at Near–Record Levels

Global meat markets are likely to face heightened trade competition in 2012, at the same time that recovering meat production in Asia is set to dampen growth in global import demand. Overall, meat trade is expected to expand by two per cent, to 29.2 million tonnes, much of which is anticipated to be taken up by developing country exporters, which could increase their share of the global trade to 44 per cent.

Disease outbreaks in 2011, drought–reduced cattle inventories and high feed costs sustained international meat prices to near record levels in the first quarter of 2012. In April, the FAO meat price index edged up to 182 points, surpassing the record 181 points registered in November 2011.

Variable feed prices influence pork and poultry price movements

World meat market at a glance

Indications of slowing import demand, especially for pig and poultry meats, portents a potential moderation of meat prices in the coming months, which, along with high feed costs, is raising concern about the profitability of the meat sector in 2012.

Beef prices strong while easing feed prices translate into lower pig meat and poultry prices

Pig Meat

As disease concerns in Asia abate, the pig meat sector is poised for a quick recovery

After last year’s drop, global pig meat production is expected to rebound by 2.6 per cent in 2012 to 111.7 million tonnes, underpinned by gains in Asia due to reduced incidence of disease. In the region, policy support, growing investments and favourable market returns, particularly in China, are behind an anticipated four per cent expansion in the region’s output to 62.8 million tonnes. The sector may also recover in Japan, following a rebuilding of sow inventories and a return to normal piglet births in provinces affected by the nuclear fallout in 2011. Investments in breeding and feed industries in Viet Nam will support output growth, while a rebuilding of FMD-depleted inventories in the Republic of Korea is stimulating a 20 per cent production recovery.

In South America, high beef prices are indirectly supporting the expansion of the pig meat sector in Brazil, Chile and Colombia while, in Argentina, sporadic restrictions on pig meat imports from Brazil are creating incentives for investment. The recognition of Mexico as free of classical swine fever has opened new market access opportunities which, combined with investment in new breeding lines, supports an increase of the country’s production and exports in 2012.

Anticipation of new EU environmental regulations that will become effective in 2013 has catalysed a restructuring and concentration of hog operations that may translate into fewer pigs and lower production in 2012.

Despite tight margins, a shift by consumers in North America from beef to lower priced meat products is expected to strengthen demand and translate into higher production. Investment–driven gains in the Russian Federation are foreseen to boost production by five per cent despite persistent occurrences of African swine fever.

Pig meat trade may decline in 2012 as Asian import demand falters

After witnessing double-digit increases in Asian import demand in 2011 due to its disease-reduced output, improved production in the region is forecast to result in global pig meat trade falling to 7.0 million tonnes in 2012.

Reduced purchases by China, the Republic of Korea and Japan, amid large supplies, underlie this expected contraction. This is despite the expected ratification by the Russian Federation of the WTO accession treaty later this year and the signing of a free trade agreement between the Republic of Korea and the United States. It is clear that the Russian Federation will only ease restrictions on pig meat imports when it officially joins the WTO in mid-2012. Until then, imports by the country will be negatively affected by a reduction of its tariff-rate import quota from 470,000 tonnes in 2011 to 400,000 tonnes this year, which may result in smaller pig meat purchases.

By contrast, imports by Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Uruguay look set to increase, while Argentina’s “off-and-on” restrictions on imports of Brazilian product may lower deliveries to the country.

Declining trade prospects in 2012 set the stage for considerable competition among the major exporters – the United States, the EU, Canada and Brazil – which together account for nearly 90 per cent of global trade. Lingering Russian restrictions on imports of Brazilian products may contribute to lower exports from Brazil in 2012, while benefiting smaller international suppliers, such as Chile and Mexico, but also the United States and Canada.

Further Reading

- You can view the full report by clicking here.

- Go to our news item on this story by clicking here.

May 2012
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