Huge trade opportunity ahead for red meat: Strong

James Nason, 15/10/2021

A huge trade opportunity for Australian red meat, the impact of low cattle numbers on MLA levy revenues, and how the sector is dealing with counterfeit meat are among several hot topics in Kerry Lonergan’s Weekly Grill interview which airs today with Meat & Livestock Australia managing director Jason Strong.

Against a backdrop of cattle price levels we never thought we’d see, and property values soaring accordingly, Mr Strong says one of the key challenges for the industry is getting comfortable with its success, and “to stop being surprised that things are going well”.

“One of the key reasons they’re going well is because the industry collectively has really invested in and executed on being better and being connected and producing a high quality high value product,” he said.

Among the reasons he points to for continued optimism going forward is the developing Free Trade Agreement with the United Kingdom, potentially on track for ratification mid-next year.

The negotiations are underpinning a new trade opportunity which he believes is “going to be huge”.

“The starting position of that agreement is more access than the biggest year we have had for Europe in the last 60 years,” he explains.

“That is the starting point and over 10 years we get to full liberalisation.

“It is huge, and it is a fantastic opportunity with a culturally aligned population, a high disposable income, big red meat eaters, so it is a huge opportunity for us.”

At the same time the industry is facing challenges in the community and consumer space.

Asked if the industry has a concerted campaign to explain to the broader community that counterfeit meat claims of extraordinary health and environmental benefits are far from reality and far from the truth, Mr Strong said the industry was doing “a lot in the space ” and was focused on doing more.

“It is a real challenge isn’t it, because they are, a lot of those claims are far from reality and they are far from the truth,” Mr Strong said.

“…Very directly, we have always done a lot in the nutrition area and it has been very technical and really high quality work, high quality information, targeted at professionals so that has been very effective in that space around nutrition and the value of red meat as part of a balanced diet

“So much of what we’re seeing particularly as plant based proteins and manufactured foods is their promotional positioning has just been driven by commentary and opinion

“It has not been backed up by facts, it is not backed up by like you say with verifiable claims, so much of it is just commentary and opinion.

Click here to listen

“As an organisation and as an industry we have got to be better at getting in front of that.

“We’re investing in a bunch of research, things like red meat, green facts, which we launched at Beef Australia was the start of that.

“And the sustainability, we have done a bunch of producer videos and information that has been shared quite widely on social media around our sustainability credentials.

“We have now started doing, we have released a number of animations around plant based proteins just recently, but also on methane production, and trying to progressively build this weight of resource and material that all of us can use.”

“So we can promote those things, we can put them out on social media, we can do campaigns with them, but when you get out into that traffic, in some ways we are only one, so part of what we are very conscious of is how do we best arm and prepare all of our stakeholders as well.”

In a “protein packed” interview other topics covered today include: 

– What lower cattle kllls mean for MLA revenues and industry capacity to compete with alternative proteins;

– How the Fewer Bigger Bolder philosophy is progressing in corralling many smaller projects into bigger focus areas;

– The challenge the industry faces to balance important new areas of research with ensuring previously acquired knowledge is adequately extended and adopted; and

– What CN30 is likely to mean for graziers in the area of vegetation management.

To listen to the full Weekly Grill podcast with Jason Strong click here




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  1. Vern, 18/10/2021

    If the MLA is doing a lot into discrediting the myths and untruths around counterfeit meat what are they doing? We always get these motherhood statements that tell you nothing.

    Full name required for future reader comments please Vern – as per our long-standing reader comment policy. Failure to do so will mean comments will not appear.
    We also think it is important to point out that comments in the article do make reference to specific actions MLA has taken in this space relating to research, release of the Red Meat, Green Facts informaton resource, producer videos demonstrating sustainability of beef production and a new series of animated videos showing the science supporting sustainable beef production. Editor

  2. Andrew Dunlop, 15/10/2021

    Whilst low cattle numbers may be reducing slaughter numbers, this is a transaction levy and due to the change in the industry, cattle are transacted multiple times and levies are levied multiple times.
    I would like to know what the total collection of levies is as a percentage of cattle slaughtered. Could it be between 2 and 3 times?
    Sold as weaners, levy collected, backgrounded and sold to feedlot, levy collected, sold on to works for slaughter, levy collected.
    In this example, 3 levies are collected for every beast slaughtered.
    But what is the actual?

    • Peter Brooks, 17/10/2021

      Transferred 2500 cattle between livestock lenders and copped a circa $16 k non tax deductible charge

      MLA says it is a nsw dpi issue

      NSW dpi says it needs legislative change

      Good question as to how much extra revenue is generated by this aberration?

    • Val Dyer, 15/10/2021

      Agree with you Andrew.
      And when cattle are transferred between different financial entities within the same ‘umbrella’ holding company, is the transaction levy waivered by the Australian Taxation Office through a Private Business Ruling?

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