Australian beef producers find export opportunities growth in Asia

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 8th May 2012

Australia’s beef industry will see massive export market opportunities in Asia over the next 20 years and the biggest challenge for Australian producers will be to match genetic selection with consumer demands, according to Meat & Livestock Australia.

Meat & Livestock Australia’s general manager for international markets and economic services,  Dr Peter Barnard, believes there will be “mind boggling” growth in Asian markets due to continued population and economic growth.

Speaking at the two-day Bayer and Bioniche International Beef Cattle Genetics Conference, held this week in Queensland, Dr Barnard said that patterns of food consumption in these areas would be influenced by the expansion of global supermarket chains, but consumer tastes would retain distinct local identities.

“Food consumption in Asia is expected to double by 2020,” Dr Barnard said. “The outlook for the Australian beef industry is for a more diversified set of export destinations, but growth will be concentrated in Asia.”

Five years ago, 87 per cent of Australia’s beef exports were concentrated in just three destinations – the United States, Japan and Korea. In 2011 those three countries accounted for 70 per cent of Australian exports, as new markets emerged in Russia, the Middle East and China.

“There are now more markets than ever before and we will see an explosion of new markets into the future,” Dr Barnard said. “Not only are we talking about diversity in terms of country distribution, but there will be markets within markets.

“Although Australian beef is more expensive than product from India, for example, in Asia it is considered prestigious and we can compete on service and quality. In China consumer studies have shown that people are prepared to pay for food safety and that they do look at the country of origin of the product.”

Dr Barnard said Australian beef processors are already targeting specific beef cuts to the markets where they are most valued by consumers. For example, 87 per cent of Australian short ribs exports go to Korea, while knuckles are favoured by Russian sausage makers and rumps by Brazilians.

“More than ever before genetic selection at farm level will be influenced by the local circumstances in the particular markets producers are targeting,” Dr Barnard said.

More than 300 delegates attended the conference, travelling from around Australia as well as the United States, South America, Indonesia, South Africa and New Zealand.