Sam Hunter was recently awarded the inaugural Angus Australia Foundation LIVEXforum Scholarship, and travelled to Canberra at the end of October to attend the LIVEXforum. Here Sam reflects on his time at the conference.
LIVEX Forum was an informative 2 days that provided me with the opportunity to engage in the “hot topics” surrounding the Live Export Industry. The event was held in Canberra on the 27 and 28 October with a small (150 registrations) group of industry professionals. As the forum encompasses all live export there were members of the cattle, sheep and goat sectors there to discuss the trade. The forum’s theme- Striking the social balance: Regulation, Accountability and Profitability- could not have been more fitting in today’s current market place.
With such a wide range of industry professionals, the discussed topics were always interesting and refreshing. Whilst I was obviously most interested in what was happening in the cattle sector of live export- it was very interesting and insightful to hear from our neighbours in the goat industry about their wins and the challenges they have faced. Within our own breed, the demand for Angus heifers is set to only increase, with China still leading the charge, taking as many heifers as we can supply. This will put further pressure on seedstock and commercial producers as the battle to sell or retain heifers as future breeders only intensifies.
It was comforting to see that animal welfare standards in Australian Live Export trade are the best in the world, with constant monitoring and improvements being made. For me, panel discussions were the most informative part of the event- they provided attendees the opportunity to hear views and insights of the industry professionals. The first event which covered trade opportunities and the challenge of translating market access and compliance into trade was most informative. The regulations and protocols that exporters face to export cattle is overwhelming and complex to say the least. To meet regulation and compliance, exporters face fees of $160/head to send cattle to Indonesia- a large cost for the company and after learning more about the process and cost it is clear to see why live export from the top end is an industry that runs on a tight profit margin.
On a global red meat market level, it was sobering to hear how the Indian Buffalo trade has already impacted the Australian beef consumption in Malaysia. A Malaysian importer told the forum of the severe price differentials between Buffalo meat and Australian Beef and how more accessible this product has become to the local consumers. The Indian Buffalo meat can be sourced at around $5/kg compared to a steady $22/kg for Australian Beef; an alarming difference since the local consumers can not differentiate between the two products and the consumers are often eating buffalo when they purchase Australian beef.
Australian exporters and Australian Beef professionals are coherent in achieving the best for our countries beef industry and are willing to work with producers to achieve these outcomes. Further developments into the potentially lucrative China meat market will be the shining light for Australian producers in the coming months and years; but once again this is a complex market that will take a large amount of effort to ensure we are investing time and funds in to the correct avenues. It was positive to see the Angus breed at the absolute forefront of the industry when it came to the exportation of British-bred cattle. No other breed has matched Angus and the opportunities that the society has created for its member base; continued investment into genetics and management programs by commercial and seedstock members will facilitate this market dominance.
Thank you to Angus Australia and Angus Youth for the opportunity to attend a world class event that provided many opportunities to increase my knowledge of the live export industry, but more importantly provided me with the chance to discuss industry challenges with like-minded professionals that further round-out my network base.
Top Image: Angus Australia LIVEX forum scholarship winner, Sam Hunter is pictured at the Angus Australia trade stand at LIVEXforum 2016 with Nikita Corby from Gunn Agri Partners and Angus Australia CEO Dr Peter Parnell