EACH year, MLA puts out its industry projections to assist producers with their businesses planning.
The six-monthly update of the beef industry projections is due this week, and sheep industry projections next month.
fridayfeedback joined industry specialists and producers to find out how they use the information, and what effect the projections have had on their decision-making process.
For Queensland cattle producers Ross and Natalie Olive, forward planning is an important part of their operations.
“We have scrub country here, running on three properties. We turn off trade steers mainly and breed bulls for the Northern properties in the Territory and towards the Gulf,” Ross said.
“It’d be lovely to know what’s actually happening or going to happen because what you do today reflects on two years’ time. You’ve really got to think two years ahead.”
One of the tools the Olives use when planning ahead is MLA’s cattle industry projections – a detailed account of factors affecting global red meat and livestock markets.
MLA Chief Economist, Tim McRae, said the projections are a snapshot of what’s driving the industry and what is going to be driving the industry over the next three to five years.
Updated twice a year, the projections provide statistics on the Australian cattle herd, feedlot activity, slaughter numbers and global beef demand, plus a breakdown of exports to each country.
They also examine the impacts of weather, economic conditions and currency fluctuations, to provide information on where the market is likely to head in the short to medium term.
“The projections focus on big picture issues, which producers haven't really got much influence on -- the dollar, global recession, overall consumer trends,” Tim said.
“For producers it’s more about knowing the stock they produce but also giving them an idea about when the best time to market that stock is, because over the years we have seen a change in timings and what markets demand what, when.”
With Ross and Natalie selling bulls into the NT, the projections also help them decide when their bulls are likely to fetch a higher price in that State, and when there’s likely to be an oversupply of cattle in Queensland due to steers coming down from the north.
"If we can see there’s a demand for boxed beef at a certain time of the year and our cows can hold for an extra month, we’ll hold them to gain that little bit of profit,” Natalie Olive said.
“We’ve changed our direction, so we actually wean a lot earlier and we now supply cattle at a lighter weight. And that’s huge for us because it’s increased our carrying capacity with regards to breeders.
“It also puts us in a much better position with risk, so if something like a protein drought comes along we definitely are in a better position to tackle those variables.”
Ross said that the projections gave he and Natalie the power by making informed decisions.
“Whatever information that we can get is gold to us. Whether it be talking about the live export up in the north, or boxed beef, or even US beef going into Japan or Korea, you know that is all gold.
If we can read that and get something out of it, it’s fantastic,” Ross said.
Meat & Livestock Australia
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.
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