MLA annual report reflects turbulent times

 

Beef Central (August)

October 9, 2020

 

Buffeted by drought, global pandemic, market swings, floods and bushfires, the Australian red meat industry has shown remarkable resilience during the past financial year, Meat & Livestock Australia’s 2019-20 annual report released this morning shows.

 

The Annual Report (Click here to access) presents MLA’s activities, outcomes and financial performance throughout the year.

 

Chairman Alan Beckett noted that COVID-19 had been an unprecedented and unpredictable event for the world in 2020, creating “unfathomable economic and social fallout.”

 

“The red meat industry, although somewhat more protected than other industries, hasn’t been immune to this, and had to adapt to the situation as it unfolded,” he said.

 

COVID-19 had substantially impacted consumption patterns, Mr Beckett said.

 

Food service was one of the hardest-hit industries globally, with restrictions significantly decreasing the number of people dining out. There had also been a shift towards cooking from home more regularly, further impacting food service sales.

 

Retail sales of red meat, however, had risen sharply, driven by concerns for food safety and a spike in ‘panic buying’. This created challenges with carcase imbalance, as higher value cuts that would typically be purchased through food service were now without a consistent market.

 

Mr Beckett said other impacts of COVID on Australian red meat included volatile market shifts, challenges with processing due to abattoir shutdowns, and export difficulties stemming from freight disruptions.

 

“Although COVID is not yet under control, the Australian red meat industry continues to adapt to deal with its impacts,” he said.

 

“Since the start of the COVID outbreak, international market demand had been volatile. Adding to this, supply disruption to some of Australia’s major competitors has led to a variable trading environment. However, demand for Australian beef remains strong, with the impact of African Swine Fever still a major influence on the global meat protein trade,” he said.

 

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