WARRNAMBOOL'S Midfield Meat is flying hundreds of tonnes of chilled beef into the Middle East each week as costs cut profits.
Midfield managing director Colin McKenna told the Mt William Charolais bull sale crowd last week the company's chilled carcass export business by air had increased substantially over the past three months in reaction to rising utility prices and the impact of the carbon tax.
"This has taken work away from Australians," Mr McKenna said.
"I can't help that the end users in the Middle East and Asia say, 'We will bone the product ourselves. We haven't got these ridiculous waste water, gas and power costs'," he said.
"These are the things that our farmer bodies should be taking to our politicians, that this is what we are competing against.
"So we will fly it out of Melbourne."
He believed Midfield was the first company to send a full jumbo of chilled beef carcasses three weeks ago and was now sending two to three jumbos a week to the Middle East.
The company was exporting about 500 tonnes of chilled beef and lamb each week.
"There has been plenty of air freight go out, but now we've said we've got to charter the planes and they will go out full, every day a minimum of 100 tonnes of meat on them," Mr McKenna said.
The company has been in business for 35 years, employed about 800 people Australia-wide and processed 220,000 cattle and 2 million sheep and lambs a year.
Mr McKenna said he was a great believer in the future of the livestock industries, especially beef.
But monthly bills, of $100,000 each for electricity and gas, $75,000 for water and annual Australian Quarantine Inspection Service fees of $1.25 million, were eating into Midfield's profitability and could only be recouped from producers, he said.
"The producers have got a very, very, very tough road in front of them, because the minute that glorified Prime Minister decides to put a carbon tax on we cannot in any way pass that on to our customers.
"Our customers will not accept a price rise in any way."
Customers would buy beef out of Brazil or Uruguay if Midfield put its prices up, he said.