RESEARCH commissioned by Agribusiness Australia has found the links between the grains and meat sectors have grown closer in recent years.
The research found Australia's burgeoning domestic market for grain was largely spurred by demand from the meat sector.
"Domestic demand for grain grew 38 per cent between 2015 and 2019, with the beef and pork industries leading the way in terms of buying more grain," said Agribusiness Australia chairman Mark Allison.
"Some of this growth was due to the drought and more animals being on feed but this trend has continued since and we're seeing no let-up in the numbers of animals on feed," Mr Allison said.
Data backs up Mr Allison's claims.
Thomas Elder Markets said 46 per cent of Aussie cattle were now finished on grain opposed to 25pc in 2000.
Mr Allison said he saw a closer collaboration between the two industries as mutually beneficial, in particular as consumer focus shifts to issues of sustainability and traceability.
"In the past we have probably seen some haggling over grain price, but there is so much more to gain by working together than in an adversarial manner," he said.
"Value-adding grain by using it in the meat supply chain is a good way of really getting the most bang for our buck on an export front, sending out a high value product."
He said Australia produced the most wheat per capita on the globe, leading to its traditional export focus.
However, he said there would be strong opportunities, particularly on the east coast, for those producing grain for the domestic market.
Mr Allison said he was especially excited about the opportunities in the emerging sustainable production space.
"Both the grains and meat industries in Australia have great sustainability credentials and these will become increasingly important, meaning more opportunities for our exporters and within our own domestic markets."
"Committing to sustainable productivity via processes such as quality assurance will achieve cross sectoral growth and would be good for all of Australian agriculture."
Mr Allison said while the giddy prices for beef and sheep meat were attracting the headlines, pork and poultry were also strong users of grain.
"The systems for pork and poultry are well set up for using grain, and while the prices are behind those on offer for other red meat at present there will be a shift if the consumer sees too much of a premium one way."
Longer-term, Mr Allison said closer ties could see more dedicated feed grains produced.
"At present what goes to livestock is generally just milling wheat that did not make the grade, there could be further work with researchers and breeders on developing lines specific for feeding to animals if the growers were sure there was the demand there."
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