RESEARCH | Staff Reporter, Australia

Australia remains one of world's top red meat eaters despite steady decline in past years

It is expected to be “somewhat sheltered” from the worst of COVID-19.

Australia remains one of the world’s largest consumers of beef and sheepmeat despite a steady decline in domestic consumption of red meat, according to a new report from Meat and Livestock Australia.

The Australian red meat and livestock industry faced one of the most challenging years on record in 2019, as a myriad of pressures unfolded, in domestic and global markets. Drought conditions intensified across the eastern states, with the Bureau of Meteorology officially declaring 2019 as the hottest and driest year on record in Australia.

“Cattle and sheep producers were forced to destock paddocks, driving the national herd and flock to historical lows and the national bushfire crisis further tested the resilience of Australian red meat producers. Despite these challenges, Australian red meat continues to be recognised as the high quality protein of choice worldwide,” the report said, in reference to pressures experienced by the industry during 2019.

Australia was revealed to be the largest exporter of sheepmeat and second largest beef exporter in 2019, accounting for nearly a quarter of total red meat traded. China’s position as a key market for Australian meat also continued to grow, with the outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) driving demand for protein to the market.

The number of red meat and livestock businesses in Australia has remained relatively stable over the past five years, with a minor decline reported in 2018–19.

“Despite this, industry turnover of red meat and livestock recorded a notable increase over the same period, while industry value add and employment levels in the red meat sector remained stable at a time when the industry was suffering one of the worst droughts on record,” the report said.

“While the long term economic impact of COVID-19 will no doubt be severe, Australia’s standing as a provider of high quality red meat product, both domestically and globally, has somewhat sheltered the sector from the worst of the economic fallout.”

Read the MLA report by clicking here.

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