Beef’s secret weapon to keep Brazil at bay


Shan Goodwin, North Queensland Register (Australia)

6 Dec 2017


THE perspective of youth, and the benefit of remarkable inside access, is shining an interesting light on how Australian beef will fare in the face of supercharged Brazilian production.


Australia’s sophistication and co-ordination in producer representation, data analysis and technology will be its point of difference, says 24-year-old beef marketing and production executive Kirsty McCormack.


As the South American beef giant which boasts a cattle herd more than eight times the size of ours carves out efficiency and quality gains, how likely it is to displace our beef in global markets has been a key cause of consternation among industry leaders and analysts.


Ms McCormack, who works with Queensland family-owned  Signature Beef, has just wrapped up her year as the beef industry’s Rising Champion, which gave her a rare on-the-ground look at the Brazilian beef supply chain.


She said the power Australia had in co-ordinating and representing beef producers was underrated and underappreciated.


“Often we talk about the ability of Brazil to outcompete us in the marketplace but our industry structure is our advantage,” she said.


“Brazil have the cattle and they are starting to produce better quality beef. They are still developing land and systems to increase productivity.


“But they do not have what we do in terms of industry knowledge, representation and technology to be able to deliver their beef to the world.


“Our traceability, biosecurity and certified guarantee, that comes with every piece of Australian beef, is unquestionable.


“We should strive to improve these things to secure our place in the global beef market.”


Rising Champions sponsor McDonalds paved the way for Ms McCormack to visit Brazilian beef operations last month and gain incredible insights.  


She said sustainability dominated conversations.


“In Brazil, sustainability really brings into focus the Amazon and the issue of deforestation,” she said.


“Banks, processors, retailers and wholesalers are utilising satellite technology to monitor deforestation, creating a virtual blacklist of farmers who are clearing any land at all.


“In each biome, there is a legal amount of land that is able to be deforested but the pressure from non-government organisations to have zero deforestation has created a situation where many producers have been cut off from major supply chains.”


It was making a huge difference to the producer’s ability to utilise their land, Ms McCormack said.


“This is where the importance of peak industry bodies has become so clear to me,” she said.


“There is no producer representative body that sits on the Brazilian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef or acts on behalf of producers to influence government...