New Zealand's meat and wool sectors need bigger thinking

Cost, marketing and competition challenges bring on future threats in the meat sector and the dismal results in the wool industry

New Zealand's meat and wool sectors need bigger thinking
New Zealand's meat and wool sectors need bigger thinking

Delegates at Feds’ national conference in Wellington were told in Rick Powdrell’s final address as Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Industry chairman that tinkering at the edges of change are not going to cut it.

National strategies are harder to achieve by the complex ownership and marketing structures, and with the industry constantly maximising profits in any way possible, the future threat of synthetic protein called for much needed boldness and open discussion.

Rick will report to MPI for recommendations on the next best steps, and he sees encouraging signs of the needed work on national strategy being recognised by various meat industry players.

He says he hopes the process will start after the recent meetings between the Meat Industry Association, Beef + Lamb NZ and Federated Farmers.

Industry partners from farm to market have joined together highlighting a new level of industry collaboration. This was after the recent programmes Beef+ Lamb in market development and the red meat story along with the Red Meat Profit Partnership programme.

Rick says that after the formulation of these new initiatives, the next challenge is to develop implementation plans because if visible returns are not evident, the work would have been for nothing.

Synthetic meat is a future threat that meat producers cannot dismiss. Rick says this is a viable alternative when its cost will reduce as volumes grow and processes are refined.

Federation’s Meat & Fibre Council will need to get someone with knowledge of synthetic meat production and attributes to come and speak, Rick recommends.

He says that understanding these products will help work against this competition, helping better the marketing of meat products.

Delegates at the conference were told that sheep and beef prices are back to sustainable levels, as told by Rick. Since his address in February, he can see higher levels of farmer confidence today.

However wool prices are "dismal" and was "the negative elephant in the room."

He says a strong case will need to be created including clear evidence of a positive outcome for all participants if anyone wants to see significant change for success in the wool industry.

There needs to be a united approach adopted, with self-interests aside, as those who aren’t prepared to join this approach will be left to fend for themselves, Rick says.

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