|dc.description.abstract||The major problem in the New Zealand meat industry is the future organisation of marketing of our meat products rather than increased production as such. With changing world markets, the meat industry needs to make adjustments that will maintain, as closely as possible, the stability of demand and prices that have always been associated with the United Kingdom market.
The main response to changing market conditions has been the Meat Board's diversionary scheme, especially to develop new markets. At present, exporters are required to divert from the United Kingdom market 15% of the export of lamb.
Unfortunately for New Zealand, research work into marketing problems of this sort has been very small. It is interesting to note that, considering its size, Lincoln College has carried out a considerable amount of research into future demands for our products, particularly in the United Kingdom and North America.
The big problem arising from diversification is the securing of markets which will guarantee us access for a long period of time. It is simply not a matter of short run promotion of markets and capitalising on shortages of supply by other exporting countries, but one of permanent development of markets.
The question may rightly be asked, how far our international trade problems require modifications of internal production, The problem finds its way back via the processing industry to the farmer, The issue to the farmer is made more difficult at the present time because the sheep (a dual purpose animal) has wool as a product which has been forced down to a relatively low price level. I cannot see wool prices rising to any extent, and they could fall further. Although I am speaking about the meat industry, the price of wool is obviously highly relevant. It is now being admitted, fortunately by those in authority, that there is a substitute for wool, namely man made fibres. However much we may talk about, or believe in the superior qualities of wool, it is the textile industry that buys it. The textile industry has changed quite significantly in many areas from weaving (traditionally wool fibre) to knitting (lower proportion of labour to capital, faster throughput, and well suited to synthetic fibres). The rate of throughput is important as a cost factor and homogeneous man made fibres have little wastage, thus competing seriously with wool. Again the answer to the future of wool in terms of income to the farmer, and of course to the economy, may be in a high quality fibre selling at a high price, or a low quality fibre accepting a low price, but, of necessity, produced at a low average cost.
Forecasting future prices of lamb, mutton and beef is very difficult. On the demand side one has to see the effects of consumption by changes in population, changes in income, changes in tastes, and variations in the prices and supplies of competing goods. It is important to maintain accurate observations on overseas domestic supplies of products competing with our exports, and the implications of commercial policy decisions by overseas Governments. If export prices are likely to be low, then the answer must surely be a look at the cost structure on the farm, i. e. this is a question of productivity not just production. It is obviously in the interests of the farmer to have lower costs for processing meat at the works, and therefore it is in his interests as well as that of the freezing works to cooperate with them in the utilisation of the full capacity of present works.
An appreciation of the costs of production of processed products is vital to the economy as a whole. As I see it, the marketing of our products in the future is going to become increasingly difficult if we are to receive the prices we want. I feel therefore, that there should be a spirit of cooperation between the farmers and the freezing companies which could act to their mutual benefit. I think we have passed the stage where farmers say that their problem is simply increasing production of primary products and it is over to the others to find markets for them. Surely we must adapt our production to market requirements. We may even have to ask the question as to whether we are right in increasing production of certain primary products.
I propose to discuss trends in slaughter in Otago and Southland, actual and potential slaughtering capacity, and the spread of the kill in the whole area.||en