'Bold action' needed for beef, lamb industry

TIM CRONSHAW
Last updated 13:12 05/07/2013

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The beef and lamb industry is at risk of being an insignificant player in the country's economic recovery, the ANZ Bank says.

Managing director Graham Turley said today that the red-meat sector was stuck in its ways and would not benefit unless bold action was taken.

He said businesses developing primary production into desirable products were the new stars of the economy and sheep and beef people had to link to an improving soft commodity outlook and thriving food and beverage sector.

The Red Meat Sector Conference, starting on Sunday in Auckland, came at a critical moment in the industry's history, he said.

"Beef and lamb exports have been an important foundation stone in New Zealand's economic development," Turley said.

"But the fractured nature of the industry, with its poor planning, means it's now at risk of missing out in the country's economic recovery.

"The dairy industry has done really well in recent years as a result of investments across the whole supply chain and the red meat sector needs similar attention." The ANZ, New Zealand's largest rural lender, said that top of the agenda for people attending the conference should be how to inject new thinking and leadership into the industry.

Turley said among the key challenges were reversing the trend of decreasing supply of lambs, lowering production costs, and increasing profit.

"This will require reinvestment across the whole industry, integration of the supply chain so farmers are rewarded for supply of the right product at the right time," he said.

"It's crucial that farmers make a commitment to the supply chain so that the marketers and processors can invest in efficient processing and new markets with confidence to enable higher returns." A promising sign was the increasing recognition of the need for a new industry model to raise the performance of the supply chain.

Turley said the conference would be a great opportunity for the entire sector to address some of the main problems.

"I have enormous confidence that red meat will be a key part of New Zealand's economic future, but a lot of brave decisions and hard work must happen first," he said.

The conference is hosted by the Meat Industry Association of New Zealand and Beef + Lamb New Zealand with ANZ the main sponsor.

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