Morocco resorts to cattle imports from Brazil to shore up local beef supply

MOROCCO – Morocco has imported 2,800 heads of cattle from Brazil in an effort to maintain an adequate supply of beef and prevent further spiking in prices of the highly sought-after commodity.

Beef is usually in high demand in Morocco with average annual meat consumption in Maghreb country estimated at 17 kilograms per person in  2018.

A recent drought, one of the worst in Morocco’s history, has however impacted livestock production leading to a severe shortage of beef across the country.

The imports from Brazil are part of government efforts to meet the national demand for red meat and stabilize prices.

Over the past year, red meat saw a dramatic rise in prices growing by more than 50% in value. One kilogram of red meat now averages more than MAD 100 ($10), up from MAD 70 ($7) last October.

 In efforts to satisfy the domestic demand for red meat and maintain price stability, the government announced plans to import 30,000 heads of cattle from Brazil and Uruguay.

The administration had also earlier extended the suspension of import taxes on red meat via a proclamation and also eliminated the minimum weight requirement of 500 kilos and the quota of 200,000 heads of cattle needed to be exempt from customs.

Hssain Rahaoui, the regional director of agriculture for Casablanca-Settat, a region in Morocco, said that this shipment from Brazil was the largest ever and the first of its kind.

However, the Minister of Agriculture had previously explained that a lower number of cows imported thus far was caused by their high global prices.

Abdelfattah Ammar, CEO of the company in charge of shipping the cattle, Doukkala, stated that Moroccan veterinary services certified the consignment met the norms and health requirements, and authorized the company to finish the import procedure.

The news of more cattle arriving in Morocco will help in allaying fears that were already mounting over the state of the red meat market ahead of Eid Al Adha, a religious holiday that sees a spike in demand for cattle.

A shortage in cattle would have meant a spike in prices that would put cattle out of reach for the country’s average purchasing power.

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