Northern Beef Development - Northern Beef Futures legacy

Page last updated: Tuesday, 21 January 2020 - 10:23am

The former Northern Beef Futures (NBF) project supported industry groups in the Pilbara and Kimberley and aimed to transform the northern beef sector to become a more prosperous, sustainable and resilient pastoral industry through market diversity and, improved business models and supply chains. 

NBF was reviewed in 2017/2018 to place a stronger focus on initiatives that deliver the greatest return on investment, including innovative new crop trials, improving regional infrastructure, supporting practice change within industry, and policy development that will lead to improvements in productivity.

The northern beef industry turns off between 250,000 and 320,000 cattle per year from 150 pastoral stations in the Kimberley and Pilbara regions. Over half that amount, or about 180,000 cattle, enter the live export market.  A further 44,000 cattle are processed domestically, and the remainder travel to other properties for backgrounding.

The strong live export focus in the northern beef industry means it does not realise the full potential available from boxed beef and other live export markets (Figure 1). The industry is also highly reliant on the Indonesian market, which has both price and volume volatility risks.

Figure 1 Northern beef supply chain
The strong live export focus in the northern beef industry means it does not realise the full potential available from boxed beef and other live export markets. 

The project was designed to be export supply chain-focused and market driven. The market-driven approach was essential since, unless alternatives were actively developed, the tendency will be to sustain existing markets which do not realise the growth potential or risk mitigation available from diversification.

The export-supply chain focus is integral to the design given the whole of the industry will need to adapt over time to realise the benefits of the market driven approach. 

The first phase of the NBF project implemented a suite of studies that systematically examined the whole of the industry to identify the constraints and opportunities to growth (Figure: 2).  The aim was to develop the knowledge base, relationships and shared understanding on which industry and government could individually and collaboratively develop northern beef in phase 2.

Figure 2 - NBF priorities
The first phase of the NBF project implemented a suite of studies that systematically examined the whole of the industry to identify the constraints and opportunities to growth. 

‘Joining the Dots’ on key northern beef futures informing studies

Industry and Government have joined the dots on five major themes arising that will further accelerate the development of the northern beef industry. The findings from a number of completed first phase informing studies are summarised in a ‘Joining the Dots’ report to:

  • outline constraints and opportunities at specific points in the supply chain identified by NBF
  • join the dots in terms of what the NBF findings mean across the northern beef industry.

The key reports are detailed below in Table 1.

A range of informing studies were commissioned across the areas of market development, supply chains and production to outline constraints and opportunities to the northern beef industry.

Informing Study

Why was it chosen

Markets Outline key Asian market opportunities/constraints
Beef insights – capturing Asian markets opportunities Outline specifications and potential market of FTAs
Australian Free Trade Agreements Outline specifications and potential market of FTAs
Profiling Chinese agribusiness (beef) investment Investment mode and preferences of Chinese
New/innovative beef supply chain models in Thailand Case study of is involved and potential benefits
Supply Chains Creating efficiency in the supply chain
Innovative business models for value creation  Alternative supply chain business models
Northern Beef Infrastructure Audit Identify constraints and priority investments
Valuing security of supply Potential of alternative value chains
Northern Beef Value Chain Trust and Collaboration How the markets drives and impedes collaboration
Production Examine ways to increase value of production
Northern Rangelands Aggregated Feeding Facilities Potential for backgrounding and intensive feed base

Business Improvement Grants

Pastoralists identify their own development priorities

Other informing reports from the Northern Beef Futures project include:

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