Ukraine faces livestock crisis

By Vladislav Vorotnikov

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Meat Livestock

Ukraine faces livestock crisis
Ukraine experienced a sudden drop in meat production in the first part of 2012, with analysts warning that the resulting prices are leaving residents unable to afford domestically produced meat.

According to reports from the State Statistics Service of Ukraine (Gosstat), Ukraine produced 731.4 tonnes (t) of meat in January to March 2012, which is 1.9% lower than in the same period of 2011. Cattle numbers decreased by 0.3% to just under 5m head, while the number of cows dropped by 1.3% to 2613,400 head. A similar situation has been registered in all other livestock sectors.

This drop in production contributed to a huge surge in meat imports. Data reveals that 1.6 times more meat was imported into Ukraine in the first three months of 2012 than in the same period in 2011, with pork imports increasing by 2.3 times, poultry by 2 times and beef by 2.2 times.

Analysts say that the surge in imports was further encouraged by attractive market conditions. In January and February, prices for the main types of meat products in the country increased significantly, with beef prices up 19%, pork up 8%, and poultry prices up 22%. The trend accelerated in March, resulting in a 27% increase in beef prices on the same period last year, with pork prices up 18% and poultry up 26%.

“In such a situation, a lot of the Ukrainians can not afford to buy nationally produced meat. For example, the maximum wholesale price of imported pork is currently about UAH 30-35 (US$ 3.76-4.38) per kilogram, while the cost of pork produced domestically currently stands at UAH50 (US$ 6.26) per kg in some regions, and it is projected that at the beginning of May it will increase almost 20% to UAH60 (US$7.51) per kg,”​ said an expert at analytical agency Agrorucom.

One of the key factors behind the drop in production and rise in prices was an extremely poor harvest of winter crops in Ukraine this year, which has had an impact on feed prices. A very cold spring destroyed 36% of the country’s winter crops, which led to a UAH100 (US$12.52) increase in the price of grain, bringing it to UAH1850 (US$231.6) per tonne.

However, the country’s authorities have said that they do not expect the price of meat to continue to rise. They blamed the fluctuation of in production seen at the beginning of the year on seasonaility and temporal factors, and said it did not reflect the overall picture of the industry.

“In the coming years we will not have a significant fluctuations on the prices for meat,”​ said Sergey Petrenko, deputy director of the Department of Economic Development and Agricultural Market under the Ministry of Agricultural Policy and Food of Ukraine, at a recent press conference.

“Our country produced almost enough poultry and pork to meat internal demand. So economic factors will not let the price of meat jump further in the near future.”

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