Turkish cattle imports are estimated to be slightly higher this year than in 2019 to compensate for a feeder cattle population shortage as a result of the restriction on feeder cattle imports in 2019.
That is according to a report published by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Turkey imported 689,076 head of cattle in 2019, which equates to a 52% drop from the previous year.
The number of cattle in Turkey is estimated to grow by 1.2 % in 2020 to 18.1 million animals. This is due to favourable government subsidies and continuing feeder cattle imports albeit at a lower volume, the report states.
Restricted imports in 2019
The Turkish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MinAF), the report adds, restricted feeder cattle, breeding cattle, and cattle for slaughter imports in late 2019 since Turkish cattle producers had been struggling to compete with low prices of imported cattle in the domestic market.
“Turkish livestock sector has been facing many challenges such as a lack of cohesive planning, marketing difficulties, and high input costs dependent on imports.”
“Feed is the major cost for Turkish livestock operations accounting for almost 60% of total production costs.”
Turkey produced 1 million metric tons (MT) of beef in 2019, which is similar to 2018, the report adds.
“The stagnation in beef production is due to fewer feeder cattle imports in 2019. Slaughter prices are too low, and producers cannot break even on their expenses of raising animals.”
Also, the carcass yield of the animals is very low, approximately 270-300 kilograms (kg).
Struggling with meat production
“Turkey has been struggling with meat production deficiency for years, and feeder cattle production has not been adequate for supplying enough meat to the domestic market.”
According to TurkSTAT data, the feeder cattle population only increased % last year, despite an increase of 11% the previous year.
This, the report authors say, is an indication that Turkey is still dependent on feeder cattle imports to meet demand.
Red meat consumption is expected to remain at 15 kg per capita in 2020, an outlook which is based on continuing food inflation, high red meat prices, and weak consumer purchasing power.
Turkey imported 6,552 carcass weight (CWT) of meat in 2019, which is 89% less than 2018, because of pressure from domestic producers to limit imports.