Leadership key for global meat industry

Not so good: China’s demand for pork is expected to continue to decline. Photo by Supplied

Global meat producers are set to face a leadership test in 2022 as the disruptions affecting food markets pose challenges as well as create opportunities, according to new research from Rabobank.

In its Global Animal Protein Outlook 2022, which analyses meat and seafood markets around the world, Rabobank said while the disruption that had permeated animal protein sectors throughout 2021 would persist, progressive business operators would see the changes within the market as an opportunity for growth.

The report said animal protein supply chains faced four areas of cost inflation pressures: animal feed, labour, energy and freight. Rabobank advises businesses to embrace consumer preferences for sustainability and to be prepared for a surge in demand as economies continue to reopen and adjust following COVID-19-induced lockdowns.

On a consumer level, Rabobank expects demand for beef to remain solid, demand for salmon and shrimp to show ongoing strength, improving demand for poultry, and strong sales of alternative proteins.

The main feature for the year in global trade would be the ongoing decline in China’s pork imports, as the country’s pork market recovered from African swine fever, which would exacerbate the over-supply in Europe.

Australian outlook

For Australia, the report says, while production will start to lift in 2022, cattle and sheep prices are expected to remain strong.

Beef production is forecast to see a slight lift (of around five per cent) in 2022 — driven largely by a lift in slaughter numbers — with a larger increase occurring in 2023. Higher production in 2022 will also support an increase in exports of “about the same magnitude”.

Rabobank’s Angus Gidley-Baird said this outlook followed stagnant growth in beef production during the past couple of years.

“While seasonal conditions have been favourable, we do not believe the cattle herd has seen a strong rebuilding through 2020 and 2021,” he said.

“Instead, many producers have taken advantage of good feed availability and high livestock prices to trade rather than rebuild breeding numbers, and this is prolonging the herd recovery process.”

Australian lamb production is forecast to continue to increase in 2022 off the back of an expected five per cent increase in 2021.

Strong beef and sheep prices are expected to remain, the report says, supported by a forecast favourable seasonal outlook, which would ensure good pasture to graziers, as well as a large winter grains harvest delivering feed grains.