Opinions and market wraps from Alice Springs red meat forums

Opinions and market wraps from Alice Springs red meat forums

President of the Goat Industry Council of Australia Rick Gates in Alice Springs.

President of the Goat Industry Council of Australia Rick Gates in Alice Springs.


From the goat market to DEXA, there was plenty on the agenda at a recent Alice Springs red meat event.


MUCH of the growth in goat production in recent years is due to the work of individual exporters who “went out into global markets and put us onto leads,” according to peak industry group head Rick Gates.

Speaking at a major red meat forum in Alice Springs recently, the president of the Goat Industry Council of Australia said goat production had doubled in the past eight years.

While record prices had certainly contributed, just as important were the efforts to bring in new customers and strong demand, which in fact facilitated those strong returns, he said.

“We have a lot to thank the processors for,” Mr Gates said.

Goat prices hit an over-the-hooks high of $7.50 a kilogram carcase weight in July and while a correction came the following month due to increased supply, returns had been “quite sustainable” all year, Mr Gates reported.

Meat and Livestock Australia’s indicator is currently sitting at $5.40c/kg.

The main push for the upward surge in goat prices over the past four years has come from North America, which now takes more than 60 per cent of our product, Mr Gates said.

Australia’s integrity systems were also playing a critical role, he said.

“Ninety per cent of our goats are harvested rangeland, which feeds into that clean, green image,” he said.

“It’s a very helpful marketing tool and one we should cherish.”

Indications were the goat market should remain strong for some time on the back of a lack of any lift in supply, he said.

Once-in-a-lifetime situation

MANY long serving agriculture leaders say they have never before seen cattle, sheep, goat and wool prices all at record levels at the same time.

Where that can be combined with a favourable season, “we are in a very good place” and these sectors become even more important to the Australian economy and its communities, Red Meat Advisory Council chair Don Mackay said.

Speaking at a forum hosted by his organisation in Alice Springs late last month, Mr Mackay said red meat was an industry with very strong economic credentials that was continuing to grow.

While acknowledging consumption of red meat in Australia had fallen - as it has in many parts of the world - Mr Mackay said stakeholders should not beat themselves about that.

“When I was growing up we had mutton for breakfast, lunch and dinner but things have changed,” he said.

“Still, Australians are very large consumers - we eat four times more beef and six times more sheepmeat than the rest of the world.”

Dairy outstrips beef in productivity growth

WHETHER they are aware of it or not, those seeking to restrict market information flows and reduce the availability of objective performance data in Australian livestock were slotting their industries into a no-growth future.

That’s how Mick Keogh, from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) sees debates over new technologies like dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA), which can scientifically measure lean meat yield in cattle.

Speaking at a beef industry business breakfast in Alice Springs recently, Mr Keogh said a comparison of the productivity performance of the beef and dairy sectors in Australia over the past 50 years provided a useful indicator of the gains that may be possible if producers have access to more objective and comprehensive performance data.

“If we index Australian milk yield per dairy cow and average beef cattle slaughter weights at 100 in 1970, by 2016 the dairy index was at 220, while the beef index was at 160,” he said.

That means the rate of dairy productivity growth had been double that occurring in the beef industry.

“There are multiple reasons for this, but one is undoubtedly that dairy farmers have available objective milking data, which they can use in combination with comprehensive genetic information to select and breed superior cattle better suited to their farming system,” he said.

Objective carcase data has the potential to boost productivity in the beef industry to a similar extent, especially by enabling livestock producers to link genetic information and management strategies with objective carcase performance, he argued.

“It also has the potential to ensure that the production and processing sectors can better align with market and consumer requirements, and maintain the premium prices that are currently achieved by Australian livestock products.”


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