Cumulative cattle slaughters in the seven months to August this year declined by 9% to 173 575, statistics show.
The decline is, however, a 1% increase from the 2015 figure.
Data available from Livestock and Meat Advisory Council (LMAC) show that the Department of Livestock and Veterinary Services (DLVS) has reported active clinical infections of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in Chipinge South, Mwenezi, Chivi and Chiredzi.
Resultantly the supply of beef into the market has been affected by producers restocking their herds following the drought induced destocking exercise in 2016.
“The outbreak of FMD could further constrain market supply as the year draws to a close and monthly demand traditionally peaks” reads the LMAC livestock update for October.
During the period, Mashonaland West recorded the highest number of slaughters, making up 18% of the total slaughters at abattoirs monitored by DLVS, while Masvingo province recorded the second highest number of slaughters, with Matabeleland South and Bulawayo being third and fourth respectively.
“Mashonaland Central had the lowest number of 139, which is reflective of the lack of monitored abattoirs and not the absence of cattle slaughters in the province,” the report noted.
According to the report, the composition reflects a decline in the quality of meat supplied by producers over the years. So far this year supers account for 17%, a decrease from 22% in 2014.
The proportion of economy carcasses rose by 3% over the same period in 2016, while commercial meats have declined by 3% in 2017, with the report further indicating that the breakdown of cattle slaughtered over the period January to August 2017, according to age, reveals the dominance of mature livestock.
Wholesale beef prices rose across the board in the nine months to September, with economy and commercial meat recording the highest gains, of a 20% increase to US$4,20/kg from US$3,50 and 10% to US$4,09/kg from US$4,50 respectively. Abattoir operators continued to report challenges in acquiring higher grade meat.
“The Competition and Tariff Commission held stakeholder workshops in Bulawayo, Masvingo and Harare to review the pricing practices within the beef value chain amid reports of collusion among operators to the detriment of cattle producers.
“Although the report is yet to be published, it was noted that there is a need to improve the marketing and delivery system in the beef value chain and to increase the number of buyers present at the purchase of cattle within the small holder sector,” the report said.