AUSTRALIA, North Sydney. The unprecedented and unpredictable nature of Covid-19 makes it very difficult to report on the complete range of impacts to Australian red meat and livestock industry in an accurate and timely manner.
It is clear that even though China appears to be emerging from Covid-19 shutdown, the crisis is escalating across the rest of the world and will continue to disrupt consumption of Australian red meat domestically and around the globe.
Major disruptions, including flight cancellations restricting air-freight capacity, refrigerated containers being held at ports and not returned to global circulation, labour shortages and slow customs clearance. More recently, US beef supply chains have started being impacted by Covid-19 with some plant closures and potential concern for bottlenecking in ports, similar to those experienced in China in February.
Consumer uncertainty has been a catalyst for changes in purchasing behaviour and in some cases attitudes towards red meat. MLA recently commissioned consumer research in China which confirms that consumers in a crisis gravitate to brands they trust. Australian beef and lamb have gained that trust over decades of combined industry efforts.
Demand for livestock is increasing due to the reduction in air transit limiting access to chilled/frozen meat.
Red meat exports in March began to reflect the impact of COVID-19 with some shifts in markets and product flows. Australian beef exports in March totalled 93,954 t swt, 8% lower than a year earlier while lamb exports fell 5% in March year-on-year, reaching 25,097 t.