Increased protein competition in China is being cited by Rabobank as something to watch as strong demand for beef from China drives up export returns.

In Rabobank's latest Agribusiness Monthly report, animal protein and sustainability analyst Blake Holgate said the China Meat Association had announced the Chinese government would be expanding its sourcing of animal protein products in an attempt to replace the lost pork production that had resulted from the African Swine Fever outbreak.

That might include allowing imports of Indian buffalo and lifting the current ban on UK beef.

There were also reports of an increase in the number of international meat facilities being accredited for export into China.

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Rabobank animal protein and sustainability analyst Blake Holgate. Photo / Supplied
Rabobank animal protein and sustainability analyst Blake Holgate. Photo / Supplied

Over the longer term, that would increase competition in China for New Zealand beef exporters, Holgate said.

Meanwhile, there was a solid lift in farmgate prices over the last month with the national cow cull trailing off at a quicker rate than it did last season, increasing procurement pressure.

At the end of June, the North Island bull price was 3 per cent higher month-on-month, averaging $5.35 cwt and the South Island bull price was also up 3 per cent to $5.05.

Prices in both islands across all classes of cattle were now largely consistent with where they were sitting a year ago, Holgate said.