Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Outlook 2013 highlights global opportunities for beef and lamb

While many of the coffee break and lunch conversations at Outlook 2013 inevitably turned to the horse meat scandal, the annual conference wasn’t overshadowed and provided ideal the platform to focus on future developments for the beef and lamb sector.

Hosted in Westminster by EBLEX, in conjunction with DairyCo and BPEX, delegates at the well-attended event heard cattle and sheep market outlook presentations from Debbie Butcher, senior analyst, AHDB MI/EBLEX and Paul Heyhoe, analyst, AHDB MI/EBLEX. They also heard export manager Jean-Pierre Garnier outline opportunities in the global market for beef and lamb.

Mr Garnier indicated that Japan and South Africa would be a priority in terms of exports for beef and lamb, respectively. This will hopefully continue the momentum which has helped us access to 61 countries or territories for sheep meat and 52 for beef. In 2012 work in this area included 118 marketing activities in 41 countries, 29 of which were exhibitions.

Latest European Commission forecasts have indicated that global demand for meat should grow by 1.7 per cent a year from 2012 to 2022, with the EU share of world meat trade expected to rise from 13.7 per cent to 15 per cent.

Mr Garnier added that world beef consumption remains robust, particularly in Asia and South America. Delegates heard how beef is moving upmarket, away from an everyday product to a weekend treat where quality and consistency of product is essential. Premium beef remains central to the European menu and is growing in importance in Asia.

In Britain, lower production and high beef prices are likely to continue but there is a continuing need to export fifth quarter products and open Third Country markets.

Increasing lamb consumption in northern Europe came under the spotlight, while the huge potential for lamb in Russia another new markets, was also touched on. The challenge that remains, however, is the ability to compete on price with New Zealand and Australia.

Acknowledging the current market difficulties in the lamb sector, delegates were given some cause for optimism by Mr Garnier that the medium and long term prospects for sheep meat remain positive.

Of course operating in the global market presents significant opportunities and risks and, as
EBLEX chairman John Cross reiterated in closing the conference, the industry will always faces challenges and needs to do all it can to manage volatility as part of that market.

All presentations from Outlook 2013 can be found by clicking here.