EXPECTATIONS have reached fever-pitch in the final countdown to Rockhampton’s Beef 2015 event starting on Sunday, which promises to be easily the biggest red meat supply chain event ever staged in Australia’s history.
Unseasonal rain since Wednesday has dampened the ground, but not the spirits of the legion of volunteers, exhibitors, speakers and cattle handlers now starting to converge on Rockhampton’s Showgrounds preparing for next week’s event.
If there is a defining feature of Beef Australia 2015, compared with the earlier triennial events held since 1988, it is that it has now fully completed the transition from being a ‘big livestock show’ to something which embraces the entire beef supply chain.
On the eve of this year’s much-anticipated event, Beef 2015 chairman Blair Angus said the aspect that he and his board were most satisfied with was how much the broader industry was now embracing the board’s primary objective of serving to advance the Australian beef industry.
“You can really see that starting to happen now,” Mr Angus said.
“Establishing and cultivating a spirit of collaboration across sectors is going to be critical for the Australian beef industry to fulfil its ultimate potential. At previous Expo’s there was not a lot of engagement from meat packers or lot feeders, for example, but this year, the entire supply chain will be very well represented.”
That process is clearly reflected in the massive overseas stakeholder representation at this year’s event. At last count, there were more than 830 delegates registered for Beef 2015’s International Handshakes program, almost half of which will come from China, where Australia’s beef exports have exploded over the past 18 months.
“Australian beef is now widely perceived as the best in the world. Our customers know they have a product which is safe, consistent, and well suited to their particular application, regardless of whether that is fine dining or a ground beef hamburger. That’s why all those people from overseas are turning up: they want to do business, and to align themselves with Australian beef,” Mr Angus said.
He suggest that consumer engagement would be another strong feature at this year’s event, through the celebrity chefs attending from across the world, giving cooking demonstrations and showcasing their talents in pop-up restaurants each day.
“Accompanying them will be overseas media which means Australian beef will be exposed to more than 600 million people, worldwide,” Mr Angus said.
“Chefs like Alvin Leong (pictured left) have a huge international following, and they have a passion for Australian beef which can be of enormous benefit. It’s about selling the sizzle.”
Ten of Australia’s best-known meat companies will be represented in functions at the International Restaurant across the duration of the Beef 2015 event.
Last minute accommodation
Accommodation wise, Rockhampton was now close to fully booked, but slots were opening up with late cancellations that were worth investigating through the Beef 2015 website or secretariat, Mr Angus said. Other attendees were bussing-in each day from outlying centres as far as Gladstone, an hour south.
In commercial cattle events, there had been a massive response from across Australia to competitions for stud cattle, commercial cattle and carcases.
“This year’s carcase competition will include almost 200 entries, representing 600 head of cattle from 18 plants spread across every Australia state,” Mr Angus said. “The national carcase competition concept has really hit its straps this year, allowing producers in different parts of the continent to benchmark what they produce against those in other parts of the country.”
120 speakers across conference programs
The seminar, symposium and conference program will next week spread across four days, with more than 120 international and local speakers engaging with audience s across diverse, topical subjects which will directly impact producers’ operations.
“I am just so encouraged by just how vigorously everybody in the industry now seems to be embracing Beef 2015 as a platform to build trade partnerships, grow knowledge, establish and cultivate supply chain partnerships and build capability towards delivering a better beef industry,” Mr Angus said.
“None of that could happen without the deep support of the Federal and State Governments, which continue to commit heavily in financial terms and through other resources,” he said.
“They see Beef 2015 as a valuable platform to really help drive the industry forward.”
Mr Angus agreed that the timing of this year’s Beef Expo had arrived at a critical point in Australian beef’s supply and demand cycle.
“On one side, drought may have an impact on this year’s event, with large parts of Queensland and NSW still desperately dry, after two years. That’s reflected in prime cattle nominations this year, but that was entirely to be expected,” he said.
“But certainly the mood of beef producers today – given the challenges they have faced this year and last – is very optimistic. We have our challenges, whether it be drought or logistics, but they see big opportunity ahead on the world beef stage, and strong prospects for further livestock price growth.”
“Producers remain very upbeat, and can see what’s coming over the horizon,” he said.
Click image below to view a short Youtube clip of Beef 2015 chairman Blair Angus outlining what lies ahead next week .