Opportunity for environmentally-certified beef

19-Jul-2010

An independent study by two Australian cattle companies has identified market opportunities in Europe and Asia for beef sourced from properties with internationally-recognised environmental certification.

Funded by Wilmot Cattle Company in NSW and TVF Pastoral Company in Queensland, in conjunction with the Australian Land Management (ALM) Group, the study by Europe-based consultant Alex Dalley and Asian trade specialist Ross Maddock identified growing demand from environmentally-aware consumers who want to know the source of foods and fibres and how they are produced.

Mr Dalley, a food product chain consultant in The Hague, said specialist distributors were now willing to trial shipments of environmentally-certified beef from Australia. “It shows that beef processors need to find points of differentiation in their products,” he said. “Australia’s environmental strengths make a great basis for a brand that will appeal to European consumers in restaurants and gourmet supermarkets.”

The general managers of Wilmot Cattle Company, Bert Glover, and TVF Pastoral, Greg Robertson, said they were encouraged by the findings. Mr Robertson said it was now important to gather more information in Australian and overseas markets so that eligible producers could capitalise on the opportunity.

“The situation varies country to country, but it requires tenacity, the right partners and marketing strategies targeted at discerning consumers,” Sydney based Mr Maddock added. 

ALM Group chief executive, Tony Gleeson, said the study highlighted the need for the Australian beef industry – and for Australian agriculture generally – to adopt internationally-recognised environmental certification systems that took account of the needs of Australian producers.

“Unless we do this, overseas importers, wholesalers and retailers will impose systems on Australian producers that are designed for European and American production systems. We need a concerted effort now, because it takes time to get these systems implemented. For instance, the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) is based on research begun as far back as the late 1970s.”

Mr Gleeson said a whole-of-farm approach was essential, not different certification systems for each industry. “After all, 70 per cent of Australian agricultural production comes from farms with two or more industries,” he pointed out.

He said the momentum for environmental certification was building. “The Merino Company has taken a lead and is paying a premium for wool from properties with ALM Group certification.”

The ALM Group, supported by Elders, Australian Wool Innovation Ltd., The Merino Company, East Coast Stockfeeds and Grain, and the Queensland Murray Darling Committee, is also working with wool and grain marketers wishing to environmentally differentiate their products in export markets and with organisations committed to improving environmental outcomes.


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