Analysis and quantification of the South African red meat value chain
Spies, David Cornelius
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Given the natural resource base of South Africa, livestock production is one of the most important farming practices in the country. Of the approximately 80 % of the land surface being utilised for agriculture, almost 70 % is mainly suitable for raising livestock. The South African red meat sector contributed 14.8 % to the total gross value of agricultural production during the 2008/2009 season with cattle being the main contributor at 10.1 % while sheep contributed 2.5 % during the same period (DAFF 2010). The long-term average contribution of the red meat industry to the total gross value of agriculture production (from 1996/1997 to 2008/2009) accounted for 13.2 % and that of beef 9.4 % and sheep 2.4 % during the same period (DAFF 2010). The South African primary red meat sub-sector is unique due to the dualistic nature of the country’s agricultural situation. There is a clear distinction between the commercial (formal) sector of the industry and the non-commercial (informal) sector. Within the ambit of the above the South African red meat sector also has to compete at a global level. For the South African red meat industry to be on par and potentially become a leader (at least in the Southern African region) it is necessary to understand the red meat value chain in detail in a holistic manner to (i) guide decision making in the public and private sector domains, (ii) identify challenges that the industry faces that impedes on its efficient functioning and (iii) create a foundation for the better understanding of the dynamic forces within the industry to allow stakeholders to internalise it in order for them to position themselves so that they can increase their performance at each segment of the industry to the benefit of the entire industry. Merely providing a descriptive profile of a particular industry is not sufficient any more within a deregulated and liberalised environment. In order to make any normative judgments regarding the performance of an industry, an in depth value chain analysis is needed. This is what this study is set out to achieve for the large (cattle/beef) and small stock (sheep/mutton-lamb) subsectors. The broader industry was investigated through interviews with different stakeholders in the red meat value chain. The analysis on the value chain in general shows that the South African cattle and sheep industries have been growing in nominal terms when considering their contribution towards the total gross value of agricultural production. However, the percentage contribution towards total gross value of agricultural production in South Africa of these two sectors has remained relatively constant during the short term (cattle at 10 % and sheep at 2 %). Critical variables that affect the performance in the feedlot industry are weaner and feed prices, as well as the price they receive in the market. The performance at primary processor level is directly linked to the price of offal, which is highly variable on a geographical level as well as seasonal. The performance of the retail sector is highly dependent on their ability to cater for specific consumers in specific geographical areas, while seasonal demand also determines purchasing and pricing patterns. This variability in prices as well as the transmission thereof through the red meat value chain is a big concern in the industry. Price transmission was therefore investigated using time series data on primary producer- and derived retailer prices data from September 1999 to December 2008. The following methodological approaches were applied, namely the Engle and Granger cointegration test as well as threshold autoregressive models. The Granger causality test was applied to analyse causality. Asymmetry in price transmission (APT) was found in both the beef and lamb value chains, indicating inefficiencies within the chain. Causality in the case of beef ran both ways i.e. from producer level to retail level and vice versa depending on supply conditions while in the case of lamb a change in price at producer level “causes” changes at retail level. APT is not uncommon, especially in agricultural markets and a number of reasons can cause APT in a value chain, however, in the case of the South African red meat industry a few contributors to APT was identified namely; asymmetry in information flow, menu cost and inventory cost. The red meat value chain in the Free State province was investigated by using a value chain methodology that was derived from different approaches to value chain analysis. Primary data was captured by means of personal interviews. A total of 143 commercial producers were surveyed (i.e. 19 % of the total of 745 producers that made up the original producer database used). The analysis revealed the following important aspects, namely (i) 60 % of total income generated by commercial farmers is from livestock activities, (ii) productivity is high in the commercial sector with calving- and lambing percentages averaging 80 % and 93 % for the cattle and sheep sub-sectors respectively, while the smallholder sector only averaged 30 % and 13 % for cattle and sheep respectively, (iii) older animals within the commercial beef sub-sector are mainly marketed to primary processors while younger animals are marketed to the feedlot industry while the majority of animals in the sheep sub-sector are marketed to the primary processing industry, (iv) market access in the smallholder sector is still limited to regional auctions, the informal market and to lesser extent direct sales to abattoirs, and (v) the main constraining factors in the smallholder sector is the lack of proper infrastructure which makes managing practices difficult. One major concern within the industry is animal losses, i.e. 44 % of sheep losses in the FS was due to predation. The processor industry in the FS province is highly integrated, especially in terms of primary processors/abattoirs and butcheries. Abattoirs are an important marketing alternative, especially in the rural parts of the FS province. All the role-players in the FS cattle and sheep value chains identified the variability in live animal/meat prices as their main constraint. Increasing the productivity of the producers in the smallholder sector should be a major industry objective. This objective should start with the improvement of infrastructure, education of extension officers and simplified and easier access to credit. Given the methodology developed, and the results of the study, it is strongly suggested that the methodology be applied to the value chains of the remaining red meat producing regions in South Africa. This will provide a benchmarking platform for the red meat value chain in the country. This methodology should also be re-applied regularly (every 2 to 3 years) to keep the information up to date and to provide the means by which the industry can measure change in the industry. This will be critical from a private and public sector point of view.