Changes are needed to improve transparency and competitiveness in Australia’s cattle and beef markets, with an ACCC study highlighting shortcomings in price reporting, a lack of trust in the carcass grading system, and concerns about anti-competitive conduct affecting competition in cattle and beef sales.
The extensive study which began in 2016 involved consultations with all parts of the supply chain, and analysis of available market information and industry data.
ACCC Chairman Rod Sims says while many Australian cattle and beef businesses successfully operate in competitive export markets, there are issues that need to be addressed to improve competition along the domestic supply chain.
“The final report makes 15 recommendations, which we believe will improve transparency, competition and efficiency in the industry”.
The ACCC’s 15 recommendations cover issues including:
- improving price information by requesting that meat processors publish price grids for sales made direct to processors. This will make it easier for producers to consider and compare price offers. Nationally, the clear majority of prime cattle are sold this way
- an increase in the frequency of AUS-MEAT’s random and unannounced audits of cattle grading and trimming in processing plants to improve integrity in the system
- the introduction of an independent dispute resolution process to apply across the industry
- the prioritization of objective carcase measurement technology to increase the accuracy and transparency of carcase assessments, and the sharing of the data arising from the technology with cattle producers
- the introduction of a buyers register and post auction buyers report for major saleyards
- expanded reporting of historical prices to make it easier for producers to compare prices paid for cattle sold through saleyards, paddock sales and over-the-hooks
Mr Sims says there’s a need for the entire industry to take responsibility for implementing these changes and the ACCC recommends that the Red Meat Advisory Council assume responsibility for implementing the recommendations.
“We encourage industry participants to work constructively with the Council to ensure that they are implemented as quickly as possible.”