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Turkish Beef Import Trends

13 December 2010

TURKEY - Following a number of years of virtually no official imports, figures from the Turkish Minister of Agriculture show that 80,000 tonnes of carcase beef have been imported so far this year in response to high red meat prices, according to James O’Donnell, Director Emerging Markets, Bord Bia.

Estimates would suggest that up to 2,000t weekly is being shipped from EU member states, particularly Germany and Poland. This follows a decision earlier this year to allow red meat imports, by decreasing the customs tax to 30% from 225% effective until end of December 2010 . Domestic beef prices in Turkey are extremely high averaging over €10/kg.

Traditionally Turkey has not issued imports permits for red meat, in order to support domestic farmers. In Turkey it is estimated that Agriculture remains a primary source of employment, providing jobs for about 25% of the male workforce and 60% of female employment, but accounts for only 12 – 14 per cent of GDP. The sector receives $4bn of subsidies annually and its farm policies are considered to be more interventionist than the EU’s.

The Turkish cattle herd has been decreasing over the last number of years and is now estimated to be under 10m head and is expected to decrease further. The sector has been beset by many problems – poor pasture, small inefficient farm structure, outbreaks of F&M and high levels of TB and brucellosis. In the past the supply gap has been filled by unofficial imports of livestock and meat from neighbouring countries – estimated to account for up to 350,000t of meat annually.

The big issue is what will happen when the customs tax rate is reviewed at the end of the year?. No doubt Turkey could officially handle imports of up to 150,000 t annually and become an important destination for EU beef in the future. The present customs rate of 30% may be extended as a mechanism to lower consumer prices in the lead up to elections next year. However, it may be unrealistic to assume that it will remain in place for the long term. In addition, it is unlikely that Turkey will move on its requirement that beef from countries which have had cases of BSE require testing irrespective of age.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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