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WA Meat Marketing Co-operative makes way for better times after posting $43.1 million profit

Bob Garnant & Adam PoulsenCountryman
WA Meat Marketing Co-operative chief executive officer Coll MacRury expects a recovery to the lamb market next year in conjunction with a lift in world economic activity.
Camera IconWA Meat Marketing Co-operative chief executive officer Coll MacRury expects a recovery to the lamb market next year in conjunction with a lift in world economic activity. Credit: Bob Garnant/Countryman

The WA Meat Marketing Co-operative made a pre-tax net profit of $43.1 million last financial year after processing more than 1 million head of lambs at Katanning for the first time in its 24-year history.

The figure marked a $7.4m downturn after WAMMCO posted a record $50.5m profit in 2021-22, but chief executive Coll MacRury said the co-operative was on track for a strong recovery.

Speaking at WAMMCO’s annual general meeting at Katanning on October 25, Mr McRury said the Katanning plant had strong throughput throughout 2022-23.

“Last season, we were the only processor in WA that continued to process big numbers of lamb, averaging 4000 a day,” he said.

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“This put extra pressure on WA lamb producers when all other processors focused on mutton because of the better margins there.

“A backlog of old-season lambs entering the spring of 2022 meant WAMMCO was extremely busy all season and was playing catch-up till last winter.”

To ease the backlog, some stock were sent last spring to the co-operative’s Southern Meats plant at Goulburn, New South Wales.

The Goulburn plant also processed more than 1m head.

“Huge volumes of eastern stock enabled the plant to deliver a fantastic result for all,” Mr McRury said.

“We have been so busy in the Eastern States that Goulburn had been unable to have a winter maintenance shutdown.”

Mr MacRury said WAMMCO’s consolidated turnover decreased to $471m in 2022-23, down 5.3 per cent from the previous season.

The co-operative paid an average price of $168.60 per head of lamb and $101.26 per head of mutton last financial year.

“We ended up paying bonus pool of $8.3m including 60¢/kg on qualifying lambs and 30¢/kg on qualifying mutton,” he added.

“This compares with the average price paid to producers for lamb last season, including the bonus of $183.25/head or $7.51/kg.”

While global shipping and logistics issues settled down earlier this year, leading to improved transportation options, Mr MacRury said WAMMCO continued to be exposed to lower prices after world lamb and sheep markets deteriorated last season.

Though a “huge” volume of sheep and lambs were expected to be processed in Australasia in the sext months, putting further pressure on revenues, he expected to see “some improvements” from next year.

New projects at both abattoirs would be a major focus during the next few years.

“At Katanning, we will be adding a new processing chain by 2025 that can run optional lamb or mutton processing with extra freezing capacity,” Mr MacRury said.

“In conjunction with this, we are working with the Shire of Katanning to build a new accommodation facility for our staff.

“We will also undertake a solar energy project and add a new container park with the ability to hold 20 40-foot containers at any one time.”

At the Goulburn plant, plans to add extra carton-holding capacity with a new rendering system would speed up processing chain capacity to 14 animals per minute.

Mr MacRury said the lamb co-operative model in North America, a major market for Australian lamb, was continuing to drive revenue on top-end cuts.

“Our control in this market cannot be understated and will continue to deliver superior revenues,” he said.

“This vital investment is allowing us to stay ahead of the game when it comes to high-end revenue.”

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