Australian Livestock Farmers Urged to Take Proactive Approach

AUSTRALIA - Asian demand for beef, lamb and poultry is surging ahead of western markets, according to New York-based head of Rabobank Food and Agribusiness Research during a visit to South Australia.
calendar icon 3 July 2014
clock icon 3 minute read

Rabobank's Bill Cordingley, from America, was visiting south-east South Australia this week, telling farmers demand in Asia will continue to grow, reports ABC Rural.

Asian demand for beef, lamb and poultry is surging ahead of traditional western markets and Australian farmers need to shift their focus, he said.

Mr Cordingley says demand from emerging markets is driving prices up as consumers in western countries, especially America, become more fiscal.

Therefore products like poultry, pork and ground beef, which are usually cheaper, are heavily sought after and becoming more expensive.

As with most industries, Mr Cordingley says, China holds the key to the future and Australia has a strong advantage over competitors in the northern hemisphere.

“The United States doesn’t have direct access for beef at the moment. Restrictions relate back to their [mad cow disease] problems 10 years ago … which created a lot of restrictions on exports. They’re very keen to have [access] and look rather jealously at Australia and New Zealand.”

America is actively trying to develop a trade agreement but Mr Cordingley says it is unlikely to happen in the near future.

He said: “I don’t think anyone’s too optimistic in the US that’s going to be in the next three to six months … it’s probably a year or more away. But I think, in the end, that will create some competition for some products into China.”

The demand for clean, green, quality produce is another plus for Australian producers.

“Chinese consumers are more afraid of their food system today than they were five years ago,” he continued. “It’s no surprise that commodities, or products, from Australia and New Zealand have now had such a great opportunity.”

Other emerging markets in Asia offer opportunities to Australian producers but Mr Cordingley says cost efficiency is key.

Cultural factors will also play a huge role, with limited opportunities for pork in Indonesia or beef in India.

He explained: “Clearly, the world wants quality and they want safety, but they also want competitively priced proteins. Poultry is the most efficient and low-cost animal protein alternative beside seafood and suffers fewer of the cultural challenges. We expect poultry to be the number one consumed meat in the world by 2020.”

Mr Cordingley said Australia is already adapting well to the shift in demand but must maintain a proactive approach, according to ABC Rural.

He concluded: “Persistent upgrading of the brand, demonstrating reliability in the international markets and excellent food safety are all key elements that will help Australia leverage the opportunities in emerging protein markets.”

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