Innovation, farm management and genetics should play a central role in our planning with the aim to bring a better product to market in higher volumes, which will in turn generate greater efficiencies and increased profitability.
Through the carrying of this mantra, we will ensure we’re ready and able to supply the increasing demand for niche ‘luxury’ sectors of fine wool garments and premium lamb that rising global incomes bring.
It is no surprise a large chunk of this demand comes from China, the most important market for both Western Australian wool and lamb.
It’s important to note though, the largest single market for lamb remains the domestic Australian market. It seems the MLA’s annual Australia Day campaigns are hitting the mark.
When it comes to the Western Australian wool clip, at present China imports 85 per cent with this trend set to continue, only falling slightly due to low national flock and slowing economic conditions in China.
If we can get our numbers, genetics and farm practices right, the future export opportunities are bright.
Australia’s current sheep meat access to the EU comprises a more than 19,000 tonne per year quota with a zero per cent duty which Australian exports fill each year. In comparison, New Zealand has a fixed EU quota of around 228,000 tonnes carcass weight per year which it often does not fill.
So while the Chinese market is cooling in the short term, now is the time to saddle up – get the farm practices right, build the infrastructure and place greater focus on the little things that are going to enable us to do better, with less, for longer and add greater value to our sheep, meat and wool industry.
If we’re able to deliver on this, we may well return to prosperous times like the 1950s and ride the sheep’s back once again.
Andrew Roseby is an agribusiness regional executive at ANZ