In a comprehensive discussion on the red meat industry, Murray Behrent from Alliance sheds light on the sector's complexities and its response to global influences. The conversation, set against the backdrop of the fluctuating lamb schedule and its ramifications for farmers, dives into the repercussions of Australia's drought and the burgeoning demand from China.
Behrent explains the significant shift in market influencers, noting that "if you look at the first quarter... Australia, our biggest competitor for New Zealand, was unloading massive amounts of mutton and lamb because of the massive drought."
He emphasises the transition from the UK to China as the new price barometer, with China's purchasing power now dictating global meat prices. This shift was marked by a 57% year-on-year increase in Australian meat exports to China, revealing the deep interconnectivity of global markets.
Despite these challenges, the conversation takes an optimistic turn. Behrent illustrates a recovering market, buoyed by the UK's increased orders for New Zealand lamb post a successful Christmas season.
"The sentiment in China markets are improving... But demand is certainly up and we've seen the bottom of the current cycle. So again, positive."
His insights point towards a sector emerging from adversity with resilience and potential for growth. A focal point of the discussion is the Easter Child programme, highlighted by Behrent as a beacon of hope for the industry. Retailers like Marks & Spencer express positivity about the programme, suggesting a broader economic recovery is in play.
"They're pretty positive about the Easter Child programme and so look, and with their economy seem to be on the rebound. Easter Child and beyond, that looks good," he relays, reflecting an industry eager to move past its hurdles.
The episode also touches on logistical complications that the meat industry faces, such as additional insurance costs due to the Suez Canal incident and the drought at the Panama Canal causing congestion.
Behrent comments on these challenges, stating, "There's always something that sort of comes from behind and gets you."
In summarising the current state of the red meat industry, he offers a balanced view that acknowledges the present challenges while remaining hopeful for the future.
His expert analysis provides listeners with a deep understanding of the factors at play in this crucial agricultural sector, concluding that despite past tensions and ongoing logistical difficulties, the industry is poised for a slow but positive climb in prices and prosperity.
Listen to the full chat between Murray Behrent and Dominic George above.