In Turkey, the value of cattle imports in the first ten months of the year was recorded at $859.6 million, indicating an increase compared to previous years. The primary reason for cattle importation is seen as maintaining a balance in red meat prices. However, despite the increase in imports, there was an 85% increase in carcass meat prices. This situation points to the inadequacy of imports in meeting expectations and brings the question of whether cattle import is an effective management tool in stabilizing meat prices in the market.
Unprecedented Increase in Cattle Imports
According to the Digital Data Panel of the Turkey Food and Beverage Industry Associations Federation (TGDF) prepared based on the data of the Turkey Statistics Institute (TÜİK), there was a 5.64% increase in the agriculture, food, and beverage sector in the first ten months of this year compared to the same period last year. The sector made $21.29 billion in exports and $18.26 billion in imports, a 7.43% increase. In October 2023 alone, exports increased by 14.49% to $2.57 billion compared to the same period last year, while imports decreased by 7.73% to $1.41 billion. In October, wheat imports increased by 14.3%, while soybean imports fell by 18.2%. The cattle import in October increased by 961%. A total of $859.6 million worth of cattle were imported in the first ten months of the year, with the value of cattle imports in October alone reaching $154.1 million.
Most Cattle Imported from Brazil
In October, the largest share of cattle imports was from Brazil, amounting to $67.3 million. This was followed by Uruguay with $34.7 million and the Czech Republic with $11.5 million. In 2021 and 2022, hundreds of thousands of breeding animals were slaughtered due to incorrect policies applied to raw milk prices, leading to a serious contraction in animal assets in the country. As a result of past wrong policies, Turkey is experiencing the highest import period in livestock in recent years. Imports made by the Meat and Milk Institution (ESK) and the private sector cause the transfer of national resources abroad and deals a heavy blow to domestic production. The bill for the intense importation Turkey has made is starting to appear in TÜİK data.
Competition Board Initiates Sector Examination
The Competition Board has initiated a sector inquiry into the red meat market with the aim of developing competition policy proposals to improve competition conditions in the market. The decision was made following criticisms that a company involved in red meat production determines the shelf prices of retailers. In the last two years, an investigation and two preliminary investigations were conducted for the sector. According to the decision: "As a result of the investigation initiated in response to the allegation that a company operating in the production and sale of meat and meat products determines the resale prices of its buyers and concluded by the settlement method, the investigation company was found to have violated Article 4 of the Law on the Protection of Competition (Law No. 4054) by determining the resale prices of its buyers, and it was decided to impose an administrative fine on the relevant company." The focus of the preliminary investigations initiated on the increase in red meat prices and supply shortage was the allegation that companies and company unions operating in the sector violated Article 4 of Law No. 4054 with restrictive agreements and/or company union decisions. However, as a result of these preliminary investigations, it was evaluated that the recent price increases in red meat prices stemmed from various structural problems encountered across the sector rather than anti-competitive actions. In this context; an in-depth examination of market dynamics related to the sector, a detailed identification of the structural problems faced by market players, the development of solutions to these problems, and the development of competition policy proposals to improve competition conditions in the market, a sector inquiry was initiated on the red meat market.