AuctionsPlus buffers agriculture from COVID - Elders Rural Services

AuctionsPlus buffers agriculture from COVID

The AuctionsPlus online livestock marketing platform played a vital role in helping maintain the livestock supply chain through COVID-19 disruptions this year.

Border closures and social distancing restricted many traditional on-property sales and affected the ability of buyers and vendors to attend regional saleyards, driving many new users to the AuctionsPlus online platform.

Elders livestock agents supported clients through the year to run innovative forms of hybrid online and on-property auctions whilst helping prepare registrations, extended inspection periods, photography and videos.

The result was a significant rise in Elders sales through AuctionsPlus, including 98 per cent growth in the number of stud sales.

The COVID-19 boost to AuctionsPlus has come off the back of strong year-on-year growth in online sales.

Elders Longreach livestock agent Tim Salter, who was the top AuctionsPlus sheep assessor nationwide, points out that for agents and clients in more remote parts of the country, the platform was already integral to business-as-usual operations.

“It’s always been a big part of our business because of our location and the distances involved,” Tim says.

“Years ago, you would have had people driving long distances to look at the stock but now you don’t, you can do it all remotely.”

AuctionsPlus chief executive Angus Street says the boom recorded calendar year to date is yet to be fully realised.

“We expect to run well over 400 stud sales before the end of the Spring selling season. We are seeing some wonderful results for both first time vendors along with returning vendors,” he says.

The nature of the bidding at ram sales has changed, too.

“It is now very rare that we do not have multiple bidders who end up purchasing a few lots in each sale,” Angus says.

“In many cases, primarily for returning vendors, we will end up bidding on at least 40pc of the lots and we have even had some sales as high as 85pc of the lots bid on. We have also seen an increase in the number of lots purchased online. We see the improvement in pre-sale videos as being one of the factors driving this.”

The growing use of the platform meant there was a greater pool of genetics available this year to a much wider range of buyers.

“Looking deeper at the numbers we can also see the dramatic impact of drought, with NSW selling a huge volume in 2019, of which a vast majority went to Victoria, South Australia and Queensland, as they had a slightly better season in some regions,” Angus says.

“With the increase from Victoria, SA and Queensland it is now likely those sheep are being resold back into areas that have had rain.

“Finally, whilst seasonality does play a role, the national flock has been depleted and there is simply a lower number of sheep on the market to be sold. We have heard that Victoria and SA have had a great lambing season and so will be expecting to see numbers increase to the level of 2019, just later in the season.”