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Shipping costs lead to hike in beef prices

A hike in shipping prices has hit the global beef market, impacting the ‘big five’ exporters of meat – Argentina, Australia, Brazil, India and the USA.

Figures released by the Platts Container Index indicate that on key global trade routes, the rise in freight rates means a 40ft container will now cost £5,770 as opposed to £770 in May 2020. These huge increases, plus the inability to secure freight for chilled meat products means that beef exporters face the possibility of losing out on many global markets.

Australian beef exports are already being hit with exporters unable to meet contractual obligations. A survey of the Australian Meat Industry highlighted consistently high rises in freight rates – from 50 per cent to 300 per cent since 2020.

The problems are being attributed to prolonged Covid restrictions, with a backlog of freight and industrial action at Port Botany in Australia.

The UK has recently announced free-trade agreements with Australia but, with the increase in shipping costs, beef prices are likely to remain high.