Live Export

Cattle exports continue downward trajectory in October

James Nason, 18/11/2021

Australian livestock export trade volumes continued on a downward trajectory in October wth 45,106 cattle exported for the month, the lowest monthly trade volume since March 2013.

Ganado Express

Of the 30 or so ships accredited to operate out of Australian ports, about 17 are currently working in other parts of the world as orders for Australian cattle to Indonesia and Vietnam remain depressed. The Gando Express is one of them, currently operating between Portugal and Spain. Several others are being kept busy carrying cattle from New Zealand and South Amercia to China, in adition to other European routes. Several are also waiting at anchor for new orders.

With two months left in 2021 Australia has so far shipped 675,852 cattle for the year to date. That is on track to place overall volumes for the year at the lowest level since 2012 when export activity was still subdued by a lack of orders from Indonesia in the wake of the previous year’s month-long suspension of trade from Australia.

Primary drivers of this year’s slowdown have been record high prices of Australian cattle and the impact of new COVID waves and associated lockdowns on consumer demand in Indonesia and Vietnam.

Indonesian feedlots are reporting significant losses of around AUD 57c/kg on imported animals, equating to around $200 per feeder steer and $280 per head for heavier cattle.

A total of 21,878 were shipped to Indonesia in October, three quarters of which (16,209) where exported from the Western Australian ports of Broome and Wyndham, with 5669 delivered from Darwin.

Year to date exports to Indonesia at the end of October totalled 344,448 cattle.

Export volumes typically start to ease back with the tail end of the mustering season but this year’s October shipments were less than half the five year average for the month of 53,084 head.

Activity to Vietnam was even quieter with just 2542 cattle shipped for the month courtesy of a shipment aboard the Gudali Express which left Broome in late October.

The lack of orders from Vietnam means that shipments from Townsville dropped to zero for consecutive months in September and October.

On average around 20,235 cattle have been shipped to Vietnam from Australia during the month of October for the past five years, the vast majority of them from the North Queensland port.

The small addition to the total in October brings the total number of cattle exported to Vietnam for the year to 157,127 head.

October did result in a pick up in activity to China with 11,005 breeding cattle loading and shipping from Portland, bringing year to date total for China to 86,253 head.

Other export destinations in October included Israel (3664 feeder cattle)and Malaysia (2880  breeder, feeder and slaughter cattle).

Port by port, Broome topped the export volumes in October with  16,943 exported, bringing its year to date volumes to 103,837.

Portland shipped 11,005 (YTD 81,212); Darwin 7696 (YTD 228,500); Wyndham 3940 (YTD    30,759); Fremantle 3904 (YTD 56,579); and Townsville 0 (YTD 161,177).

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