Rupert Claxton from the meat market research firm GIRA gave a presentation on world beef markets and what he expects to happen in 2024 and how that might impact the Irish market.
Claxton said: “China has a huge impact on beef markets around the world. With China now having 20% of the world’s population, when they buy, it adds energy to markets.
"They had a later exit out of the COVID-19 pandemic, and their economy is still only getting back to normal. China’s main source of beef at the moment is South America, but this is creating opportunities and less price pressure in other markets.
Inflation is a worry and the ability of consumers to buy high-priced cuts is still impacting beef prices in some countries. Food inflation is lower than in 2021, back to 9.1% from 12.8% in 2022.
Commenting on meat-free diets, he added: “I am much less concerned about meat-free and plant-based diets as I would have been two years ago.
"I think that first range of plant-based products has settled and while the market is still growing, it’s at a slower rate than anticipated and they aren’t really taking market share.”
Claxton said: “Meat consumption will continue to grow with an extra 4m tonnes of beef required to meet world demand by 2027.
"We are seeing a big decline in US beef production, and beef production is also in decline in Europe and follows a long-term trend over the last 10 years.
“Greening and sustainability policy is continuing to drive a reduction in European beef production. Brazil, on the other hand, is at the peak of their supply chain with more South American beef coming onto world markets over the next few years.
“The UK beef market continues to be out of step with the EU beef market, but this could stand to Irish beef, as UK customers look to source cheaper Irish to maintain their margins,” Claxton said.