Article – ABARES predicts Asia will become a 'significant prospect' for Australian beef producers

1 August 2014
Craig Zonca and Cassie Hough
ABC Rural
The Asian export market will become a ‘significant prospect’ for Australian beef producers, as international food demands increase.
The issue was one of several raised on today’s Queensland Country Hour, which broadcast from Goondiwindi today, where the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) Conference is being held.
Jamie Penn, chief commodity analyst with ABARES, says overseas import demands could double within the next three decades.

“We forecast that towards 2050, Asia will demonstrate a very significant growth in food demand, and that will be a place for market opportunities for our primary producers.”
“Given the size of the Chinese economy and their population, China in absolute terms will demonstrate very significant growth.”
ANZ Queensland agribusiness manager Jeff Schrale says the international boost shows there are some ‘very positive outlooks’ for the beef sector.
He says the primary focus should be on ensuring Australian producers receive stronger returns than the domestic market.
“Most of the beef producers on the line realise that we need a lift in beef pricing, and they’re the markets that what we want to be opening, those premium markets in China.”
Frank Piedl from Goondiwindi has been a beef producer for 60 years and says, despite suggestions otherwise, market improvements are yet to eventuate.
He says he fears for the future of Australian agriculture.

“We’re getting pretty desperate here with the drought and the low prices.
“We’re getting less money for our cattle now than what we were getting 15–20 years ago.
“We’re told to have more productivity increases, but with low prices, you can’t really spend your money.
“I despair for my children; they all love the land, and it’s going to be a very long road to hall for a while.”
John Cranney, a Goondiwindi grazier, is more positive about a market turnaround after a strong season.
He says rainfall towards the end of March quelled an otherwise tough summer.
“We had about 5 inches which was quite good, whereas people not much further west had 7 inches in town, and didn’t have a drop 50 kilometres out.”
He says the ABARES Conference has ‘provided optimism’, and that Australian producers will seek to capitalise on the burgeoning middle-class Chinese market.
“There’s quite a lot of optimism about the Asian market and possible investment for them.”
“I think there’s probably room for improvement in the marketing side of things, but… I think if we can target the right markets we’ll hopefully take advantage of them where we can.”
Courtesy of ABC Rural