By Garra - 14/03/2024 in Beef

Cattle slaughtering in Brazil begins year with strong acceleration

The year 2024 began with a strong acceleration in cattle slaughtering in Brazil. Last month, 3.14 million animals were slaughtered, 16.3% more than the same period last year.

This acceleration continues the trend recorded last year when 34.3 million heads were slaughtered – the largest volume of this decade and a level 8% higher than in 2022. The data are from Safras & Mercado consultancy and were published by Folha de S.Paulo.

Fernando Henrique Iglesias, an analyst at the consultancy, points out two basic factors for this increase. First, ranchers have recently put a lot of money into the sector, raising investments in genetics, pastures, and crop-livestock integration. The result was increased productivity and improved animal supply.

Second, the country is coming out of a cattle cycle where there was a larger supply of cows for slaughter. The external prices of a tonne of beef, which reached USD 8,000 per  ton in some 2022 contracts, fell to USD 4,500 this year, affecting internal negotiation values.

In the case of Mato Grosso, one of the country’s largest cattle breeders, the actual frigorific utilization reached, in January this year, the fourth-highest average for a month, reports the Mato Grosso Institute of Agricultural Economy (Imea).

“The intense pace of slaughters last month significantly reduced the frigorific idleness in Mato Grosso,” reports the institute, which adds: “The total of animals slaughtered by Mato Grosso industries (except those sent for slaughter in other states) was 607,600 thousand heads, a volume is 21.97% higher compared to the total in December 2023.” The information is from the DBO portal.

Profit Margin

According to Folha de S.Paulo, the reduction in the profit margin in the breeding and rearing sector forced a larger number of cows towards the slaughterhouses.

Iglesias says that the slaughter of females, in 2023, was 28% higher than in 2022, according to the sector monitoring by the consultancy. In the second half, there will be a reduction in cow discarding, and from next year, the sector will more clearly show the arrival of a new cycle.

Despite this initial acceleration of slaughters, the Safras analyst states that this year’s volume will be 34 million heads, slightly below the 34.3 million record in 2023.

Meat production remains at 9.43 million tons, with exports rising to 3.4 million tons, 1.7% more than in 2023, according to Safras estimates. This month, exports already amount to 10.5 thousand tons per working day, 50% more than in February 2023, according to the latest Secex (Secretariat of Foreign Trade) data.

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