These figures are really only an indication of future demand given consumers’ current consumption habits – they don’t take into account the industry’s ability to grow supply, demand and value through farm management and productivity gains, marketing and branding and leveraging external investment.
With the opportunity clearly there, how do we realise it? Growing the national flock number is one part of it but just as importantly will be the improved productivity gains.
Starting on farm, producers must run a critical eye over their entire operation – examining their land use, strategies for genetic improvements, better lambing and weaning rates, reduced fattening times – all with efficiency and value-adding top of mind.
t’s perhaps of greater interest for Australian farmers to consider the role the sheep industry plays in the broader Australian mix of farming. The Sheep’s Back shows the sheep industry is relatively low cost and high return, and importantly for mixed operations low volatility in costs and income.
It would also seem many farmers across Australia are realising the potential with sheep present in almost 30 per cent of all farms. The figure highlights while sheep are 11 per cent of Australia’s agricultural output, the industry’s performance is relevant to nearly a third of Australian farming operations.
So why isn’t there more interest in farming and investing in sheep? There’s logic in the conclusion the asset class has fallen under the radar and there is a strong upside and future for the industry.
While we aren’t likely return to ‘riding on the sheep’s back’, the sheep industry has a strong future and considerable scope to grow demand, efficiency and the investment case in a way that can benefit both new investors and a significant portion of today’s Australian farmers.
Mark Bennett is Head of Agribusiness, Australia at ANZ