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Consumer at the fore of beef industry ‘refocus’

Cattle Council of Australia president Howard Smith.INCORPORATING the needs of consumers from the paddock through to the plate is the foundation of a comprehensive industry plan aimed at building long-term profitability into grass fed beef production.

The Cattle Council of Australia’s five-year assessment of how industry resources should be directed to strengthen Australian beef’s competitive position has just been released.

Backed by extensive economic modelling, the Grassfed Beef Industry Strategic Plan 2020 presses for a shift towards ‘value chains’ rather than ‘supply chains’ and the production of beef that is ‘fit for a purpose’.

That is not to say every producer needs to be turning off highly-marbled cuts for the restaurant trade, explained CCA chief executive officer Jed Matz.

“Rather, it is an understanding of the market they are targeting and what the drivers of that trade are,” he said.

“Everything we’ve been working on within the industry, including all the information that has been coming through via the White Paper on beef language, indicates the industry is shifting from commodity-based to value-based marketing.”

Animal welfare, export market growth, building industry capability and optimising product quality and cost efficiency have been ranked as the top priorities.

The strategy is the result of input from thousands of producers and the development of economic assessments by experts in various fields who measured future imperatives against a baseline of what is now happening.

That allowed areas of investment expected to generate the largest industry benefits to be identified.

Optimising product quality and systems integrity, for example, has an expected benefit of $182m to 2020, while developing export markets alone will be worth $389m.

Consumer and community support was identified as a major pillar, with an estimated $543m net income benefit to 2020.

Much of that hinged around animal welfare but other areas included stewardship of environmental resources and minimising the risk and impact of emergency disease.

Part of the cost benefit analysis was looking at the negative impact of not implementing imperatives and a large portion of the animal welfare figure came from preventing lost income, Mr Matz said.

CCA president Howard Smith said the move towards value chain thinking outlined in the plan was the key to the industry’s future.

“It will help increase transparency along the value chain, bring greater opportunities for producers to gain premiums and foster the collaboration we know is needed to drive our industry forward,” he said.

However, both he and Mr Matz acknowledged a cultural shift in mindset and practices on the part of beef producers and beef businesses would be required.

“It is about setting the industry up so those who want to growth their value proposition can,” Mr Matz said.

To access the plan visit http://e-doc.me/cattlecouncil1

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