July 20, 2007
July 20, 2007 - Struggling sheep farmers in New Zealand are calling for a coordinated marketing effort from meat companies before the industry reaches crisis point.
Federated Farmers Meat and Fibre chairman Keith Kelly said competition between meat export companies was driving prices down.
"No one intends it to be a race to the bottom but that is the result of an uncoordinated effort," he told attendees at the New Zealand Meat and Fibre Producers' (NZMFP) annual conference.
Delegates passed a remit calling for greater coordination between meat companies in marketing lamb to improve price and also to share research and development.
Kelly said NZMFP would push for the creation of a single entity - to be funded by farmers and meat export companies - to market lamb both domestically and internationally.
He said NZMFP would aim to come up with a fully formulated approach before the next Commodities Levies Act referendum, when farmers will vote on whether to monetarily support generic marketing, in 2008 or 2009.
International prices for New Zealand lamb have been in the doldrums for the past couple of years.
While some of the cause was cyclical, poor marketing and New Zealand companies undercutting each other were also responsible, Kelly said.
"Marketing needs an urgent shake-up," he said. "Our export produce is poorly presented and tends to end up in the bargain bins at supermarkets."
New Zealand lamb was also disappearing from the menus of overseas restaurants. Reprinted in part from Stuff, NZ