Two thirds of red meat processors hampered by labour issues
Jon Condon, BEEF Central (Australia)
May 14, 2019
ALMOST two thirds of Australia’s red meat processors are prevented from running at capacity due to what the Australian Meat Industry Council calls a ‘Labour Deficit Epidemic’ in regional Australia.
In a discussion paper released by AMIC in the lead-up to the Federal Election, the council is calling on both major parties to address the key challenge for the red meat manufacturing industry: its inability to access enough skilled and unskilled workers in regional and rural Australia.
The representative body for meat processors, independent retailers and smallgoods manufacturers said its priority ask of government is simple. It wants a clear commitment from all sides that its members can set production targets with confidence, knowing they can access a permanent and stable workforce.
Further down the supply chain, independent butchers are also finding it difficult to fill job vacancies and do not have funding to take on apprentices.
Recent Australian Meat Processor Corporation analysis has shown that processors are faced with operational costs (excluding livestock) between 1.5 and 2.8 times higher than key international competitors. With about 72pc of Australian red meat exported, the industry’s long-term sustainability is dependent on remaining competitive in international markets, and labour plays a critical part in that.
At a 2018 workshop, AMPC members identified labour as their number one industry issue. Subsequently in an industry survey conducted by the Australian Meat Industry Council last year, the shortage of labour was identified as the second greatest barrier to red meat processors operating at full capacity – exceeded only by livestock production.
Survey respondents (representing 14,427 processing employees or about 50pc of total industry employment) identified a labour shortfall of 3784 workers, or an average 20pc shortfall of workers across the respondents.
AMIC chief executive Patrick Hutchinson said the cost to operate a business in the meat manufacturing industry is high, but the margins were not.
Labour-related costs accounted for 55pc of the total cost to operate (excluding livestock purchases), which is significantly higher than for major international competitors Brazil and the US, according to AMPC’s Cost to Operate report.
“As one of the largest regional employers, and the country’s largest trade exposed manufacturing industry, we are calling on the Government to reduce the burden so red meat processors and the red meat supply chain can get on with supplying Australia and global markets with the world’s best red meat,” Mr Hutchinson said.
“The supply chain is facing a drought of the most severe magnitude — a drought in local workers who are willing to be trained-up in our industry, and a visa system that is not fit for purpose,” he said.
“This is denying us ongoing access to overseas workers who have been trained to do the jobs that local workers are either unable to fulfil because of the labour requirements, or because they are unwilling to stay in the industry.”
Further to this, Labor Party leader Bill Shorten’s pledge to increase the pay of overseas workers by $11,000 per annum would add tens of millions to the industry’s wage bill, significantly impacting its ability to achieve a permanent and stable workforce.
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Quebec cattle producers take issue with advertising of Beyond Meat burger
Federation says they shouldn't be allowed to call their product 'plant-based meat'
CBC News (Canada)
May 14, 2019
The Quebec Cattle Producers Federation has launched a complaint with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, saying that the American veggie burger company Beyond Meat has no right to advertise their product as "plant-based meat."
The product has been advertised heavily in Canada since it rolled out at A&W and popped up in local grocery stores like IGA and Rachelle-Béry.
Kirk Jackson, a cattle producer in Saint-Anicet and the vice-president of the Quebec Cattle Producers Federation, told CBC Montreal's Daybreak that he doesn't take issue with the existence of alternative protein options, but that the term meat is "reserved" for animal products.
"We have to uphold all the rules," he said. "We just want a fair, level playing field."
Jackson said the CFIA already defines meat as "carcass derived from an animal" and that it doesn't apply to vegan products.
"Do not use the term 'meat' because it already has its own definition," he said. "We just want to make sure that the consumer doesn't get confused in this."
He said he's concerned about seeing plant-based meat type products cropping up as filler in actual meat burgers or other patties...