Key survey shows the shoots of optimism in Australian beef industry


Australian beef producers have indicated growing optimism in the Australian beef industry according to the latest Beef Producer Intentions Survey (BPIS).

Posted on Jun 28 ,00:20

Key survey shows the shoots of optimism in Australian beef industry

The survey, run three times a year by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), has reported that one in two producers saw a positive outlook, resulting in a nett positive sentiment increase of 11% to 34% compared to the last survey in November 2023.

A much smaller cohort saw a negative outlook (16%), while about one in three (31%) were uncommitted and uncertain about the next 12 months.

The survey spoke to over 3000 grassfed beef cattle producers in April and May this year. It covers producer sentiment and intentions, herd profile, spring and autumn calving, turn-off weights for different producer types and sales-to-date forecast.

Manager for Market Information at MLA, Stephen Bignell, said that Northern producers were generally more positive than Southern producers, but that there were key variations across the states.

"The results suggest that that Queensland, New South Wales and Victorian producers are more positive than producers in other states, mostly due to an increase in prices and increased confidence following rain over the summer", Mr Bignell said.

"Producers in Western Australia continue to report a far less positive outlook, driven by a fall in prices and a lack of rainfall in key cattle grazing areas".

At the producer level, there is a net intention to increase the on-farm grassfed adult beef cattle herd in the next 12 months:

  • 28% indicating they would increase their herd size
  • 54% indicating it would remain unchanged; and
  • 19% indicating they would decrease their herd size.

"We note this is a clear change in intention from that reported in the November 2023 survey where there was a stronger intention to reduce herd sizes, reflecting the dry conditions heading into summer", Mr Bignell said.

"While the results do not indicate producers have all shifted to a rebuild focus, there has been a noticeable shift away from herd reductions at this stage".

When analysed further, producers noted that the summer rainfall had influenced their herd size intentions.

The April 2024 survey had a focus on measuring some of the demographics of Australia’s herd.

From the survey it has been estimated that there are approximately just over 26 million on-farm grassfed adult beef cattle. Over half of the on-farm grassfed adult beef cattle on hand are breeding cows with heifers making up an additional 15% of the total estimated herd size.

Queensland accounts for almost half the herd size (48%), with New South Wales holding 20% and the remaining states making up the rest.

The Beef Producer Intentions Survey was designed by MLA to support the industry with reliable data and is used by MLA and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). It is one of the inputs into the MLA beef industry forecasting models.

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