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Global food prices drop, supply risks remain

ALTHOUGH global food prices have subsided, they remain above historically average prices.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) food price index declined for the 10th consecutive month in January 2023, driven by the drop in vegetable oils, meat and dairy products, while cereals remained elevated on a year-on-year basis.

According to an Agribank monthly market watch report, a similar trend has been observed in Namibia’s meat industry.

The vegetable oil index declined by 24% in January 2023 compared to a 34% growth in January 2022.

“Subdued prices can be attributed to sluggish global import demand, coupled with ample supply of sunflower and rapeseed oils, thus, a slowdown in prices,” the report states.

Despite widespread Avian influenza outbreaks, global exports for poultry meat have surged drastically, exceeding import demand.

Similarly, there is a surge in the supply of slaughter-ready pigs, thus surprising overall meat prices to the downside, the report says.

Contrary to the decline in food commodity prices, cereal production surged at least by 5% in January 2023 above its levels a year ago.

This is primarily influenced by higher maize prices resulting from a strong export demand from producing countries, and tighter availabilities of rice in some parts of Asia.

Grain supply is forecasted to remain tight in 2023.


At least 240 463 cattle were marketed in 2022, recording a 2,3% growth, compared to 2021.

This is the first annual expansion in three years.

The growth is attributed to increased marketing in the first half of 2022, due to relatively good prices at export abattoirs.

However, a downward trend was noted in the second half of 2022 as a result of the ban on live cattle exports to South Africa.

Climate change, rising input costs, and animal diseases remain major risks to the industry in 2023, the Agribank report states.


Sheep marketing performed significantly well in 2022, increasing by 39% to 565 894, compared to 406 005 registered in 2021.

The upbeat growth is owed to live sheep exports that recorded a double-digit growth of 49% to 424 807 in 2022, from the 285 571 heads in the prior year.

Furthermore, the upward trend in sheep marketing is expected to be sustained throughout 2023, due to slaughtering activities at export abattoirs and the resumption of business at Farmers’ Meat Market at Mariental.

The reproduction of small stock is rapid as rangeland conditions improve.

Likewise, the goat sector surged by 25% to 142 000 goat heads in 2022, from 113 162 in 2021.

The growth is owed to increased demand in live goat exports to South Africa.

Better grazing conditions in 2023 will continue to boost growth in the small stock sector.

The pig industry remains pocket-sized in Namibia, with more than 80% of slaughter pork being imported.

Pork’s ceiling price skyrocketed in December 2022 to N$51,03/kg, compared to N$37,8/kg recorded in the prior year, partially due to the low supply of local pork meat.

Pigs marketed declined by 3% to 46 320 heads in 2022 – from 47 723 in 2021.

The Namibian inflation rate stood at 6,9% in December 2022, from 4,5% in the same period in 2021.

Transport and food remain major contributing factors.

Food and non-alcoholic beverages increased to 11,8% in December 2022 – up from 5,1% in December 2021.

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