Rayner Reckons

Oct 07

Reputations are earned

Posted on Monday, October 07, 2013

I've been really fortunate to travel through China over the past fortnight.  The trip was called the China express tour and was a chance to see the amazing Terracotta Warriors, the Great Wall and many other iconic parts of the country.  Agriculture is fundamental to the Chinese way of life in many places we visited.  I was fascinated to see small plots sown to maize, vegetables or to orchards.  

Amongst all the overwhelming sights, sounds and smells I caught a glimpse of a sign of a steak house themed restaurant promoting Australian beef. 

The words I saw which stood out for me were "Natural & Safe" and "Australia".

Now while some people might be more excited by seeing a breed name on the sticker, I think that isn't as important.  

It certainly doesn't seem to be as important when talking to Chinese consumers, who want to know more about the natural and safe reputation of our beef.

Australia exports beef to over 140 countries.  Our market access to these countries is always under challenge.  The price of the Australian dollar, cheaper beef producing countries or countries which are physically closer to these markets are constant threats to our market share.  

I reckon as producers, there's not much we can do to alter these threats.  What we do have the power to control is our reputation for natural and safe production methods.  This reputation underpins our market share internationally and is a reputation we have earned, not bought.

The importance of traceability, correctly completing vendor declarations, ensuring that Withholding Periods are observed are among the essential on farm actions which allow our industry to compete and maintain market share, and in many cases actually allows our market access to increase.

If you wonder why traceability is so important, or correctly completing the NVD is essential, then I reckon you should think about how good it is to see a sign in a city in another country promoting Australian beef as the "Natural & Safe" option.  

I was very proud to see that sign in China.  I was proud because I know we take production, quality assurance, animal welfare and consumer expectations seriously.  

Like any reputation which has been earned, our reputation shouldn't be taken for granted.  I'm always happy to talk with producers to find ways which can help improve your on farm systems which underpin the international reputation of our beef.


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