Price hikes for meat likely - expert

Consumers could soon be paying more for meat as butcheries offer higher prices to cattle farmers in an attempt to curtail competition from the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) that recently revised its price structures.

An agricultural analyst said he expected the BMC's price restructuring to trigger a sudden price hike in beef and beef by-products, hitting hard on consumers' pockets.
"BMC is a price leader, their decision will always influence the butcheries to respond similarly," said agricultural economist, Dr Howard Sigwele. 
The BMC has decided to match South Africa's buying prices with effect from April 23. In addition, the BMC is also offering attractive bonuses for cattle weighing above 250 kg. 
Sigwele, who runs a private consultancy, said the national abattoir's new price structures are expected to attract the bulk of farmers, especially Botswana's best breeders in the Gantsi Block. 
He said the butcheries will be hard-pressed not to try to offset the more competitive buying prices of the BMC, resulting in the hiking of meat prices as happened last year when the BMC announced a similar price review. "The level at which the butcheries will increase meat prices will depend on how successful the BMC has been in attracting big farmers such as those in the Gantsi Block," he said.
Sigwele pointed out, however, that infrastructure will also play an important role in determining how fast the farmers respond to the newly announced BMC prices:
"Those farmers living in rural areas with poor road systems will still find it expensive to sell to the BMC because of transport costs."
Meanwhile, the chairman of Botswana Cattle Producers Association, Philip Fisher, says his organisation is still compiling a report following the BMC's announcement of new price structures.

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