Supply chain collaboration key to beef success, says Churchill Trust scholar

Beef Central, 16/04/2015

Young Charters Towers (Qld) beef producer Emma Robinson says producers and processors need to collaborate to better meet growing consumer demand for beef.

Ms Robinson has recently completed a study tour of beef supply chain innovation in the UK, US and Canada made possible through the Winston Churchill Trust.

Churchill fellow Emma Robinson pictured with Canadian beef direct-marketer Dave Abernethy of Summerfield Farms, Prince George, during her recent study tour.

Churchill fellow Emma Robinson pictured with Canadian beef direct-marketer Dave Abernethy of Summerfield Farms, Prince George, during her recent study tour.


“Everybody is talking about the growth in the world’s middle class, which is projected to increase from 1.8 billion to 3.2 billion by 2020 and 4.8 billion by 2030,” Ms Robinson said.

“Eighty five percent of this growth will be in the Asia region and this will drive changes in the type of protein consumers are demanding,” she said.

A key challenge was how Australian beef producers capitalise on this opportunity.

“Despite strong demand for Australian beef, Australian producers have had record low prices, so what needs to change to improve producer profitability?” she asked.

“Across all the markets I visited there was a large degree of collaboration between producers, processors and retailers to shore-up supply, improve-scale, efficiency and continuity, and ultimately better meet growing consumer demand,” Ms Robinson said.

“The huge processing capacity in the US and declining beef herd means processors there are more motivated to work with producers to shore-up beef supply. This leads to more innovative working relationships.”

Ms Robinson met with a range of large producer cooperatives, alliances and branded beef companies who are working with processors to supply and create new market opportunities.

“These producers are also actively working with end-users to better understand consumer trends and drive these opportunities back down the supply chain whether it’s in production, branding, food safety or new product development,” she said.

“In the UK food health scares have prompted retailers to also shore-up their supply chains and work much more closely with producers to tell their sustainable, certified and locally-produced story.

“The EU takes product branding to a new level. Even the low-cost bulk supermarkets sell beef that is labelled by breed, feed, location and certification system. This level of branding means more collaboration across the supply chain.”

Ms Robinson says her Churchill Fellowship highlighted how other markets are moving ahead by more supply chain integration and collaboration.

“While continual improvement at the production end is a no brainer, I think long-term, producer profitability will be more about how we sell our cattle and our ability to collaborate across the supply chain to deliver a consistent, quality product that targets changing consumer tastes and expectations,” she said.

This collaboration could include collectively sourcing farm inputs, sharing production and processing data to drive improvement and greater connection with the consumer that all helps to build and sustain greater value across the supply chain.

“Beef demand will grow in counties we aren’t even thinking about, and consumer tastes and expectations of how beef is produced and processed will continue to evolve, creating new market opportunities. Producers and processors will need to work more closely together to deliver on these opportunities” Ms Robinson said.


  • Emma Robinson and her family own and manage Caerphilly station, on the Cape River south of  Charters Towers.
  • The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust’s aim is to provide an opportunity for Australians to travel overseas to conduct research in their chosen field that is not readily available in Australia. It also aims to reward proven achievement of talented and deserving Australians with further opportunity in their pursuit of excellence for the enrichment of Australian society. Click here to learn more.



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