During the global pandemic a lot of us have turned to online shopping — including farmers.
- Online selling platform AuctionsPlus saw turnover increase by $1 billion in the past 12 months.
- Online machinery sales boomed in particular, up 428 per cent
- One of Australia’s first “online sales” required a generator to run the fax machine.
The nation’s largest online platform for livestock sales, AuctionsPlus, has posted some record numbers for the past financial year, with gross sales reaching $2.35 billion.
That is about $1 billion more than what it achieved the previous year.
“It’s been very busy times and we’ve seen a big expansion beyond traditional sheep and cattle sales, with machinery and everything from working dogs, to alpacas and camels,” said AuctionsPlus chief economist Tim McRae.
“The growth is partly due to the good season … but also certainly the COVID movement restrictions have had a big impact on other categories.
More than 675,000 head of cattle were sold via the platform, up 30 per cent on the previous year, but according to Mr McRae it was the boom in online machinery and clearance sales which really surprised.
“We’ve seen a 428 per cent growth in the last 12 months, which is an interesting development for us.
“For some people it’s taken out the need to travel to check machinery out, and we think this can be maintained.”
The sharp rise in the number of livestock sold online over the past 12 months has also coincided with a big jump in prices.
“We’ve seen average prices for some livestock categories up 30 to 40 per cent,” Mr McRae said.
“And young cattle were also up, matching what’s been happening in the physical saleyards.”
One of the more remote online sales in the past 12 months, was 18 decks of female cattle from Suplejack Downs in the Tanami Desert, which were bought by a producer in New South Wales for around $400,000.
Three decades of remote sales
You might think online livestock sales are fairly new but, in Australia, the company AuctionsPlus, formerly CALM, has been conducting remote sales since 1986.
According to its website, the inaugural sale required 2 kilometres of telephone line, a couple of two-way radios and a generator to run the fax machines.
Howard Gardner, AuctionsPlus’ first CEO, said technology used to sell livestock remotely had come a long way.
“We were the first big users of them around 1986. We needed them so people could fax their description.
“Now, of course, they’ve got moving pictures on the screen, which we could never have foreseen.”