[18 May/Rabobank]

It is likely there will be pressure on global beef trade and prices if the forced slaughter of U.S. cattle goes ahead according to Rabobank’s Senior Animal Protein Analyst, Don Close. He said the U.S. was both the dominant export destination for New Zealand beef as well as a competitor with New Zealand in other export markets. Mr Close added that after aggressive herd rebuilding the U.S. beef herd was now sitting at around 31.7 million head. Currently, 70 percent of the herd were living in areas of extreme drought. Beef cow slaughter rates were up 10.5 percent above year ago levels however he expected this to rise. Mr Close noted that New Zealand would have to work harder to find a home for its product in the U.S.U.S. product was also generating a premium over New Zealand beef. Mr Close remained positive about the longer-term outlook for global beef and said he had never seen the global marketplace as exciting and ready for change as it was now.