Red meat producers should be optimistic due to a combination of domestic and international factors, despite the threat of foot and mouth disease, an agricultural analyst has told the Australian Livestock Saleyards Association conference.
Mecardo business development manager Olivia Agar told the Melbourne conference last week the long-term outlook for the red meat sector was "still very positive" despite some short-term factors which could pose serious threats to Australia's biosecurity status.
She said Russia's invasion of Ukraine, soaring inflation and rising interest rates were contributing to economic pressure, but the need for protein on a global scale would underpin the demand for red meat worldwide.
"The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development predicts meat consumption will increase by 15 per cent by 2031 and it's the lower to middle income countries that are the big driver in that growth," she said.
"The other factor for cattle is the US herd being in liquidation and when they start to enter the rebuild phase, we'll see a lot less competition in our beef market from the US.
"They've been in a serious drought for a couple of years and that's expected to turn around in 2023 but hinges on whether they will get the rain to start that rebuild phase."
Mrs Agar told the conference when the US entered a rebuild phase for its national cattle herd, Australian beef would experience increased demand.
"It's a medium to long-term positive for Australian beef," she said.
Seasonal conditions and the potential for a third-consecutive La Nina, bringing with it increased rainfall, is also another reason for the positive attitude.
"The two factors which drive red meat demand are population and wealth, both of which are steadily growing on a global scale," she said.
Mrs Agar said the national cattle herd and sheep flock was expected to grow within the next year.
"The 2022 sheep flock estimate is 76 million head and it's expected to grow 4pc by 2023 to 78.7 million head," she said.
"Meanwhile, the national cattle herd is also forecast to grow by 4pc from 27.5 million to 28.7 million head by 2023."