Market Morsel: Visa slump

Inputs | 10th November 2022 | By Matt Dalgleish

Market Morsel

Access to labour remains a key issue in Australia across the agricultural supply chain, particularly in abattoirs and on farm. Back packers have been slow to return and changes to the requirements to work in rural areas for UK backpackers is hampering access to workers in the regions.

Unemployment is low, net immigration has been slow to recover. It is all contributing to a shortage of available workers. Analysis of Australian visa arrivals highlights the decline in key areas of the workforce such as skilled permanent and temporary visa holders.

Skilled temporary visa entrants were down 60% from 2020 to 2021 and skilled permanent visa arrivals declined by 47% over the same time horizon.

Harvest is just around the corner, and the herd/flock rebuild continues at a cracking pace. In the next few years, with higher livestock numbers, slaughter volumes will return to more normal levels.

If meat works are struggling presently to build processing capacity on relatively low throughput numbers, with the major impediment to breaking the bottleneck being access to labour, how are they going to manage as throughput numbers climb?