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  • Follow the money. That might be the best way to determine whether meatless meats become a disruptive technology for livestock producers or just another niche player in a multitrillion-dollar global protein industry.

  • Yaakov Nahmias believes your days as a beef producer are numbered. Whether he and a cavalry of other alternative meat proponents are right might depend on you. 

  • Here we go again. The “sceptical environmentalist”, Bjorn Lomborg, has returned to warn against the excesses of an impending green dictatorship. The latest threat: taking away our burgers!

  • There is a lot of good going for the South African agricultural industry, which often gets overshadowed by policy discussions.

  • Scientists at the University of Oxford say governments should consider imposing price hikes on red meat - such as beef, lamb and pork - to reduce consumption.

    They say it would save lives and more than £700m in UK healthcare costs, according to new research.

    So why can red meat be harmful?
    Various research has linked eating red meat to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

    In 2015 the World Health Organization warned that processed meats, like bacon, sausages and ham, could cause cancer, while unprocessed red meat could also increase your risk.

    And eating lots of red meat doesn't just have an impact on your own health.

    Researchers at the University of Oxford said meat eaters were also increasing the burden on the health service and the economy, due to a loss of workforce from ill health.

    There is also a growing awareness of the environmental impact of eating red meat.

    The high levels of land and water use and carbon emissions associated with its production mean cutting down is one of the key ways individuals can help tackle climate change.


    How could a tax work? And what would it do to prices?


    Researchers say a meat tax could cut consumption of processed meat by about two portions per week in high-income countries.

    In the UK, the study suggests a tax of 14% on red meat and 79% on processed meat.

    This would mean the price of a 227g Tesco Sirloin Steak would increase from £3.80 to £4.33.

    And for a pack of eight pork sausages from Sainsbury's the price would increase from £1.50 to £2.69.


    Earlier this year the government introduced a sugar tax on soft drinks, meaning manufacturers have to pay a levy on high-sugar drinks.

    The tax has already had an effect, with some leading brands reducing the sugar content in their products to avoid the levy.

    But whether it means consumers buy fewer sugary drinks remains to be seen.

    Will the sugar tax work?
    The impact of charging 5p for single-use carrier bags suggests financial incentives can change behaviour.

    The number of plastic bags handed out by supermarkets in England has drastically decreased since the change was introduced.

    However the government has been less keen on the idea of a "latte levy" on disposable coffee cups.

    Ministers prefer the idea of shops offering discounts to customers bringing their own cups rather than an extra charge.

    What are the arguments against?
    Attempts by the government to tell people what to do don't always go down well.

    Christopher Snowdon, from the Institute for Economic Affairs, said taxing food was "the next battleground for the nanny state".

    Last month climate minister Claire Perry told BBC News it was not the government's place to tell people they can't eat steak and chips, despite the environmental impact.

    Mr Snowdon also argued it would be "absurd" to raise the cost of living through a meat tax.

    There's also the concern that it targets foods bought by those on lower incomes.

    And then there is the question of whether it would work.

    The cost of a fry-up would be more expensive, but would this actually discourage meat-lovers from buying their favourite foods?

  • You walk into a burger restaurant. What’s going through your mind? Double meat with extra bacon and cheese? Brown bun or added slice of avocado? Environmental degradation or ecological preservation?

  • Two recent papers by British and other scientists are calling for big changes in the type and amounts of meat we eat. One of these papers, co-authored by Professor Mark Sutton from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, calls for a 50% reduction in total meat consumption.

  • Becoming allergic to meat turns your life upside down. Known as alpha-gal allergy, the condition dictates what you can eat, wear, how you relax, and even which medicines are safe. Is research finally starting to catch up?

  • Recycling or taking the bus rather than driving to work has its place, but scientists are increasingly pointing to a deeper lifestyle change that would be the single biggest way to help the planet: eating far less meat.

  • As the scale and impacts of climate change become increasingly alarming, meat is a popular target for action. Advocates urge the public to eat less meat to save the environment. Some activists have called for taxing meat to reduce consumption of it.

  • Experts say there’s no reason to fear eating meat now, and there may even be a positive spinoff for the consumer.

  • Everybody loves a list of predictions for the coming year, so here’s mine. These are the trends I expect to define biotech in agriculture during 2019. 

  • A number of factors played together to create the perfect storm leading to the sharp decline in livestock prices during the past week. Consumers are under pressure due to our weak economic growth and relatively high energy prices and cannot pay more for protein.

  • Does the idea of being served ‘old’ beef gross you out? Well it shouldn’t, because it’s actually a good thing. Here’s everything you need to know about aging beef.

  • Beyond Meat is a plant-based meat company raising money in public equity markets. The company has announced preliminary pricing for its shares, and the stock should begin trading in about a week.

  • People may be cutting back too much on the amount of red meat they eat; with a major opinion poll showing over half of the British public think they should only be eating half the recommended amount. 

    A poll by market research company BMG research, commissioned by Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) showed 53 per cent of people believed recommended intake was half the 500g a week, or 70g a day, in government guidelines.

     It has prompted some nutritional experts to question whether media coverage urging people to cut down on meat consumption has gone too far and point out some groups are deficient in the key nutrients red meat can provide.

    Independent nutritionist, Dr. Zoë Harcombe, said: “Red meat is so nutrient dense that we should be embracing it at any opportunity.

     “A 150g steak would provide half the daily zinc requirement, while making an excellent contribution to our B vitamin and iron intakes.

     “With iron being the world’s most widespread nutrient deficiency, we restrict red meat at our peril, girls and women especially, as our requirements are higher.”

    HCC’s opinion poll did show most adults were aware of some of the most important nutrients from lamb, beef and pork.

    72% of respondents identified red meat was high in protein, which can support growth and maintenance of muscles.

     56% knew that it was a source of iron which was an essential mineral required to help the red blood cells transport oxygen to the rest of the body and also assists in energy production.

     

     

    HCC Consumer Executive Elwen Roberts said: “HCC’s campaigns always encourage consumers to get the right facts on what constitutes a healthy, balanced diet.

     

    “We will continue to emphasise the positive contribution that lean Welsh Lamb, Welsh Beef and pork in moderation can bring to the diet of all demographic groups.

     

    “The nutrients they contain are easily absorbed by the body, and have been proven to support mental health performance, fight tiredness and boost the immune system.

     

    “Our recent consumer campaigns have tried to drive home this message by working with leading sports stars such as Shane Williams and Elinor Snowsill to emphasise the high protein content in red meat, and its suitability as part of the diet of people with active lifestyles.”

  • Beef: Week-on-week US prices for rump, striploin and brisket increased by 2.1%, 6.3% and 0.3% respectively. US Chuck prices experienced  the largest price decline this week decreasing by 6.1% compared to last week.

  • With South Africa’s meat prices being in deflation over the past few months, one would easily assume that the beef industry has recovered from the 2015/16 drought which led to a reduction in the herd. Figure 1 illustrates South Africa’s cattle herd, and boy, we are not back to levels we were before the drought.

    So, where did the illusion that cattle herd has somewhat recovered come from?

    You see, the years following this period of higher cattle slaughtering when farmers couldn’t feed their stock — 2017 and 2018 — was for rebuilding the herds, which meant a reduction in slaughtering pace. This process was reflected on meat prices, which at the time were rising double digits, particularly from February 2017 until March 2018. Thereafter, we started to see some cooling off in meat prices, as slaughtering activity, on a monthly basis, began to gain momentum, albeit not back at levels during 2015/16 drought. In March 2019, South Africa’s meat prices were actually in deflation, registering -1.1%, according to data from Stats SA.

    But the factors leading to the deflation in meat prices wasn’t a recovery in slaughtering activity, but the ban on South Africa’s red meat exports following the outbreak of the foot-and-mouth disease in Limpopo earlier in the year. The theory at the time, simplistically, was that a ban on exports would lead to increased domestic meat supplies, and therefore a decline in prices. It had less to do with the herd rebuilding progress.

    Because of this, the meat price deflation story could soon be over because of the following. First, a number of African and Middle East countries have recently lifted the ban on South Africa’s beef exports.  This means the impact of the foot-and-mouth disease might not be as severe as initially expected. Second, it is worth noting that South Africa’s cattle slaughtering activity is slowing, and this could add support to prices in the near term. Third, aside from red meat, poultry products prices could lift somewhat in the coming months, as there is likely to be an uptick in import tariffs.


    Follow me on Twitter (@WandileSihlobo). E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • The global turkey meat market revenue amounted to $544M in 2017, dropping by -11.8% against the previous year.

  • Listeria in processed meat products from South Africa, E. Coli in romaine lettuce in the US, Salmonella in eggs across Europe and Campylobacter in chicken liver pâté in Australia.

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