Beef prices encourage expansion
Pastoralists from the Kimberley and Pilbara regions believe WA beef still represents good value for money despite soaring costs and concerns it will be replaced by chicken and prawns at Christmas dinners.
Beef production has fallen to its lowest level in 11 years.
Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show the number of cattle sent to slaughter in the past three months was the lowest since 2005.
Beef producers are looking to rebuild the national herd, tipped to fall to 23.3 million — the smallest number of cattle in the country since the mid-1990s.
Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemen’s Association chairman, David Stoate, who runs Anna Plains Station, 250km south of Broome, said the improved beef prices were a welcome change. “Producers in the Kimberley have used the improved returns to reinvest in their properties, meaning that the supply of beef will increase in coming years, which will benefit everyone in the supply chain, including consumers,” Mr Stoate said. “While we don’t want beef to become uncompetitive with other sources of protein, WA beef still represents excellent value for money.”
Good seasonal conditions in WA and across the Eastern States are driving the move by farmers to increase their herds.
In the past three years, the price of beef in Perth has risen 30 per cent. But those who prefer chicken to beef are benefiting.
Chicken meat production has hit a record high, rising almost 7 per cent in the past year. The increase has helped keep a lid on prices, which have fallen 5 per cent in the past three years.
Even seafood, an Australian Christmas favourite, has remained affordable, with prices flatlining.
Australian Meat Industry Council WA chairman Nathan Walmsley said independent butchers were taking a financial hit as they tried to absorb higher costs.