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Beef prices rebounded 12 per cent in December, propelled by greater opportunities in the lucrative European market and a consumer shift from steak to burgers, according to www.stuff.co.nz.

Beef was the best performing commodity on ANZ’s commodity price index which slipped 0.8 per cent, in line with a 0.6 per cent fall in the New Zealand dollar index.

Overall commodity prices levels have fallen 10 per cent since peaking in May last year.

However, beef prices were sitting just under a record high of $5920 a tonne which was set last year. Export beef earnings jumped 13 per cent in 2010-11, largely on the back of a 16 per cent rise in beef prices.

ANZ economist Steve Edwards said this had been greatly helped by a jump in exports to Europe. European beef export earnings rose 50 per cent last year, partly because other beef exporting countries were having difficulties meeting the high animal health restrictions.

Another big benefit to New Zealand had been a post-economic slowdown change in consumer patterns towards either cheaper sources of meat or cheaper cuts.

The US, which takes nearly half of New Zealand’s export beef, was particularly noticing this trend.

Over the next year experts expect a 1.8 per cent increase in the export cattle slaughter to 2.32 million head as the contribution of beef from the expanding dairy industry continues to rise. More at www.stuff.co.nz

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