Beef supply chain will face multi-level disruption, through robotics, retail selling shifts, and labelling

With an eye to the future, cattle prices and cut-out values will eventually have to reflect significant shifts in labour and robotics, packaging, transport, and sustainability demands on the sector.

Over the last 23 months, there’s been a lot of talk about supply chains moving from just-in-time delivery to a more of a just-in-case type approach, including in the meat industry. What does that mean at the producer level? If you’re a cattle producer or feedlot owner, what does the beef supply chain look like as we move past the pandemic?

That’s the topic of a new report published by Rabo AgriFinance, and Kelvin Heppner spoke with Don Close, senior analyst for animal proteins with Rabo, on the February 9th episode of RealAg Radio.

The report explores labour and labour challenges for the beef sector, but also looked at how robotics may fit into the beef processing sector. While full automation isn’t a near-term reality, more robotics and electronic monitoring is, and that will shift the demand for the kind of labour force processing facilities need. (Story continues below)

There are several other drivers of change explored in the report: sustainability labelling and carbon counting among them.

” I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing,” Close says. “I think as I talk with producers, you know, the whole sustainability front. It’s just going to be a factor of, of the world we live in. And and you know, that, that license to operate. We will have more third party audits, we’ll have more certification, more verification, know that consumers are demanding it. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I just think it’s a change for the way the industry has traditionally done business.”

The outcome of all these shifts is likely that the traditional formulas or price spreads that we’re used to seeing will change, and there could potentially be increased costs at the at the packer level in the supply chain.

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