Around 80 beef stud breeders, farmers and rural professionals gathered at B+LNZ Genetics’ recent Beef Breeder Forum to hear from world-leading experts and discuss the future of New Zealand’s beef industry.
Summing up the Forum, Dr Jason Archer, B+LNZ’s Genetics Specialist, says an over-arching theme was the need to focus on what the consumer wants, or adapt what we produce to what the consumer wants, while still running profitable and productive systems.
Futurist Melissa Clark-Reynolds set the scene for the day saying that the future for beef was bright, perhaps a lot brighter than food products that can more easily be replicated, but disruptive technologies should not be ignored.
This means the beef industry needs to position itself in respect to these disruptive technologies and consider having a social licence to operate and product labelling that goes beyond grass-fed.
Most importantly, was the need to focus on taste.
“Eating quality underpins everything,” says Dr Archer.
Michael Wan, B+LNZ’s Global Manager-New Zealand’s Red Meat Story and Nick Beeby, B+LNZ’s General Manager Market Development, reiterated the importance of eating quality and taste and the need to tell the beef industry story really well.
“But ultimately it has to taste good.”
Ruaraidh Petre took a global perspective and talked about sustainability and the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef goals of health and welfare, climate change and nature positive. Dr Archer says while beef producing countries were fundamentally competitive in the global market, they also needed to cooperate collectively against other proteins such as chicken and pork.
“We’re talking about a global co-opetition model, where we compete in the marketplace but work together at a global scale.”
Sarah Adams, Gallagher’s General Manager – Global Strategy & New Ventures talked about emerging technologies that will allow the industry to measure more variables and make better breeding decisions.
“They will allow us to make measurements as a basis for genetic prediction for a range of traits we currently struggle to measure such as feed efficiency and fertility. They will also allow us to expand our evaluations into commercial animals,” says Dr Archer.
Andrew Byrne, Technical Product Specialist for Genomics at Neogen Australia, was the final presenter and spoke about genomics and how, as a tool, it continues to evolve.
“We will get more sophisticated around its uses and break into the commercial space,” says Dr Archer.