Australia’s Meat Industry and the Disruption in the Plant-based Space

Australia’s Meat Industry and the Disruption in the Plant-based Space

American author and activist Michael Pollan states that ‘Were the walls of our meat industry to become transparent, literally or even figuratively, we would not long continue to raise, kill, and eat animals the way we do.’

Apart from the many inferences a reader can derive from this statement, it is clear that the meat industry is stable and evolving, considering the fact that it adheres to food- a basic necessity without which an economy cannot thrive.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), over the past approximately 20 years, the total meat consumption in the world was up by 64% at an average rate of 2% each year for sheep meat, 4% for poultry, 1% for beef and 2% for pork.

The Australian Meat Industry

The meat industry in Australia is robust, evolving and always considered to be one of the country’s finest sector. Australia is the world’s largest sheep meat and goatmeat exporter and the third largest beef exporter (following Brazil and India). Let’s consider the below mentioned points to get a holistic idea of the Australian Meat Industry:

  • Australia has a small proportion of the world’s cattle and sheep inventory;
  • Australia is a key exporter in global red meat markets;
  • Australia’s red meat and livestock industry makes a significant contribution to the Australian economy.
  • The largest per capita consumption of sheep and beef meat across the globe takes place in Australia.
The Economic Importance of Australia’s Meat Industry

Australia’s red meat and livestock industry turnover was recorded at over $65 billion in 2017-18, up by 1% on the 2016-17 (revised) numbers and by 38% when considered since 2012-13. This accounted for approximately 2% of Australia’s total key industry turnover.

Primary drivers of this uptrend were increase in turnover in the on-farm (59%) and feedlot sectors of the industry. NSW, Victoria and Queensland together accounted for 74% of red meat and livestock industry turnover in 2017-18.

The value add for the livestock red meat industry was $18.5 billion in 2017-18. This was down by 2.5% on the revised 2016-17 figures, but up 74% since 2012-13.

In 2017-18, Australia had slightly less than 80,300 red meat and livestock businesses, down by 2% on the 2016-17 figures, but up 4.6% on the number of businesses in 2012-13.

Production and Consumption of Meat in Australia

As per Meat & Livestock Australia’s 2019 State of the Industry Report focusing on The Australian Red Meat and Livestock Industry, Australia accounted for around 3% of global beef production and around 7% of global sheep meat production in 2017. In the following year (2018), the country produced 736,557 tonnes cwt of lamb and mutton and 2.3 million tonnes cwt of beef and veal.

  Production and Consumption of Meat in Australia

(Source: Meat & Livestock Australia)

Discussing the consumption of red meat in Australia, Australians are deeply impacted by the demographic, social, commercial and other factors pertaining to the long-term protein consumption trend. Despite a gradual decline in the per capita consumption of beef, Australia remains to be one of the world’s largest per capita consumers of beef with 27kg consumed per capita in 2017. The per capita lamb consumption is constant at approximately 9kg.

Interestingly, the consumption of mutton in Australia is almost non-existent. This is due to a reduction in the national flock size, shift in the production focus of producers, change in consumer attitudes and the increasingly developed export markets.

Export and Import Position of Meat in Australia

Before acquainting ourselves to facts, it should be noted that Australia is the only exporting nation to impose in-market animal traceability and animal welfare standards.

Consistently exporting over 65% of red meat production to overseas market, in 2018, Australia was the third largest beef and veal exporter and the world’s largest sheep meat and goatmeat exporter. China overtook US to become the largest importer of beef and veal in terms of volume and Japan was the third largest in this list.

Livestock Red meat and exports fell 13% on a year-over-year basis in 2017-18 to almost $15 billion.

A couple of years back in 2016, The top importing countries of sheep meat were China, France, the UK and the US and the key importers of goat meat were the US, the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

top importing countries

Now that we understand the Australian Meat Industry, let us concentrate on a progressive subject entailing it- Plant-based meat.

The Plant-based Meat Concept

The Clean Meat Revolution has taken a toll over today’s contemporary and conscious world. Producers and consumers are gradually becoming wary of livestock protection, which has sprung up the concept of meat products, but derived from plants. The concept of lab-grown meat is definitely gaining traction across the world.

Plant-based meat products, which can be rightly referred to as meat substitutes mimic the properties which are found within natural meat. This promotes sustainable and environmentally friendly meat alternatives, as the taste, look and feel of these products are the same as actual meat products. The only difference is that they are processed using plant and non-animal products/ supplies.

Australia Steering Up the Clean Meat Revolution?

Pacing with the global growing appetite for fake meat/ Plant-based meat/ lab-grown meat, Australians have made the concept one of the hottest food trend of 2019. Noticeably, there are now plant-based meats in Australian supermarkets and restaurant menus and citizens are growing concerned for the environment and making the switch.

Let’s take a look at the below highlights to concretely grasp the clean meat growth in Australia:

  • Recently, Australian plant-based meat start-up v2food was launched in Australia, in partnership with the CSIRO and Hungry Jack’s founder Jack Cowin.
  • ASX-listed Consumer staples player Coles Group Limited (ASX: COL) would have a range of plant-based meats produced by domestic food manufacturer Soulfresh’s Eaty.
  • Market experts believe that the Australia’s plant-based meat industry is likely to add ~$3 billion a year into the economy by 2030.
  • Brisbane-based start-up tech company Heuros, with the help of its unique technology, has developed a method that efficiently grows muscle cells from fish, mammals and even birds.
  • One of the most successful IPO’s of 2019, Beyond Meat had its revolutionary plant-based breakthrough in Australia, with products available at select stores.

To read about the Clean Meat Revolution across the globe, we encourage you to READ HERE.


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This website is a service of Kalkine Media Pty. Ltd. A.C.N. 629 651 672. The website has been prepared for informational purposes only and is not intended to be used as a complete source of information on any particular company. Kalkine Media does not in any way endorse or recommend individuals, products or services that may be discussed on this site. Our publications are NOT a solicitation or recommendation to buy, sell or hold. We are neither licensed nor qualified to provide investment advice. 

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