Lamb growers reap pool bonuses

Bob GarnantThe West Australian

In an ever-changing industry, WAMMCO chief executive Coll MacRury was pleased to report a record $287 million turnover for 2014/15.

"The co-operative reported a profit before pool bonus of $10.5 million," he said.

"This result reflects a consistent livestock, processing and marketing season.

"We paid qualifying members a pool bonus of $3.6 million which equates to 40 cents/kg for lambs and 20c/kg for mutton.

Mr MacRury said the co-operative paid an average price of $109.57 per head of lamb and $72.63 per head of mutton which was 9.5 per cent and 34 per cent stronger, respectively, in procurement price than the previous season.

"The Katanning plant again showed its ability to produce superior value through technology and the willing attitude of the processing team," he said.

"The Goulburn facility also performed well even though it was a season of two halves in the Eastern States. Wet weather, very strong re-stocker competition, and a robust domestic market kept the pressure on all lamb operators over east.

"The strategy is important at Goulburn, given the large population base, and it will continue to deliver an underlying baseline to drive our lamb business further."

With the need to upgrade both facilities towards high quality chilled lamb cuts, Mr MacRury said both plants have installed new value-adding technologies over the past 12 months.

"We anticipate the new Goulburn lamb boning room will commence processing in September, adding 700 more processed lambs to the existing 1400 per day," he said.

He said Katanning's new carton freezer and chilling block would be finished by early 2016 and would have automatic load/unload capabilities, saving on labour.

Mr MacRury said the outlook was a subdued frozen market.

"The high international frozen lamb inventory levels combined with steep decline in Chinese demand are the most concerning facets of the international lamb market," he said.

"We definitely have potential in North America, Middle East and South-East Asia and our own domestic market.

"However, the past two years we have seen beef in particular lift to record price levels.

"This change has helped lamb remain a very viable meal option.

"The depreciation of the dollar against the US dollar aided our result in 2014-15.

"Proof of the past season result was clear with an average $5.44/kg lamb return to all qualifying members."

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