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Beef market to be reviewed

January 09, 2013
The Government will commission a consultant to conduct a market survey on the quality and cost of fresh beef in Hong Kong and in nearby Mainland cities to better understand the market situation.
Secretary for Food & Health Dr Ko Wing-man told lawmakers today the survey will provide empirical data for informed comparisons, as well as an objective basis for the Government to analyse issues related to the market and consider the way forward.
“The preparation work for commissioning the consultant is in progress. We aim to complete the market survey and release the findings in the second quarter of this year.”
In light of the price surge in fresh beef, the Government has met with the trade and other stakeholders to take stock of market conditions and issues of concern.
“There has been a suggestion that the Government should open up the live cattle wholesale market and bring in competition as a means to help spur lower prices.”
Dr Ko said the Government has an open mind about the merits of the suggestion, adding careful consideration must be given to the possible long-term implications on the supply and price of live cattle.
“At present, the surge in the price of live cattle is mainly attributed to tight supply and high demand. As such, an increase in the number of import agents may not necessarily help ameliorate the market realities.”
He said the present market is relatively modest in size and questions - including whether an increase in the number of import agents merely serves to weaken their bargaining power in sourcing live cattle from farmers, thereby reducing the incentives for farmers to maintain stable supply - must be addressed.
“The Government will take them carefully into consideration when examining whether we should open up the live cattle wholesale market.”

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