Fig­ures add up for push into EU

Tasmanian Country - - THE STOCK REPORT -

THE Euro­pean Union, not China, could prove the most lu­cra­tive mar­ket for Aus­tralian lamb and mut­ton.

Meat and Live­stock Australia man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Richard Nor­ton said if the choice was be­tween China and the EU, Australia should look to the mar­ket that pro­vided the best returns.

“In China, when a con­sumer’s an­nual in­come reaches $US35,000 a year, then they start to buy more pro­tein,” Mr Nor­ton said.

“In 2015, there were 7.9 mil­lion peo­ple with an in­come over US$35,000 and in 2020 it’s ex­pected to be 16 mil­lion.

“In the EU there are 300 mil­lion with an in­come at that level,” Mr Nor­ton said.

“That’s why the post-Brexit free-trade agree­ment with the EU is so im­por­tant, be­cause that’s the mar­ket that can af­ford our cuts.”

Ear­lier this year MLA’s in­ter­na­tional busi­ness man­ager for Europe Josh An­der­son said Australia had a 19,000 tonne quota for ex­ports to the EU and tar­iffs added $5.25 for each kilo­gram, while New Zealand had a quota of 228,254 tonnes.

Mr Nor­ton said one im­porter in Switzer­land bought about $180 mil­lion worth of lamb for about $28/kg, a lot of it Aus­tralian, to sell to tourists.

He said with high-value over­seas mar­kets it was im­por­tant to keep in touch with what con­sumers wanted and good an­i­mal wel­fare was vi­tal.

“The ques­tion I got was that it must hurt the sheep when they get an ear tag,” he said. “While do­mes­tic con­sumers are more in­ter­ested in the price and the health ben­e­fits.”

Mr Nor­ton said Europe was in­creas­ingly fo­cus­ing on an­i­mal wel­fare and the en­vi­ron­ment.

He said the union had banned hor­mone growth pro­motants de­spite there be­ing “no sci­en­tific ev­i­dence” of neg­a­tive ef­fects.

“We have lost that de­bate and it’s more about fast-food chains carv­ing out a mar­ket.”

In 2015, there were 7.9 mil­lion Chi­nese with an in­come over US$35,000. . . in the EU there are 300 mil­lion with in­comes at that level

RICHARD NOR­TON

Mr Nor­ton said Mem­phis Meats, a com­pany de­vel­op­ing an­i­mal-free meat backed by bil­lion­aires Bill Gates and Richard Bran­son was “the one to watch”.

“It could be a pos­i­tive or a neg­a­tive,” he said.

“When I first heard about the lab meat I said our grand­kids’ grand­kids will crack open a Petri dish of meat on the way to Mars. But next year a chain is go­ing to re­lease a line of eth­i­cally pro­duced beef burg­ers.”

Mr Nor­ton said he hoped peo­ple would choose to eat a nat­u­ral prod­uct.

“We hope to have a good mar­ket­ing story in the next decade,” he said.

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