A GROUP of northern beef producers has received valuable first-hand insights into the performance of Australian cattle in Indonesian abattoirs, feedlots, wet markets and supermarkets, following a recent marketplace tour.
Participating in the tour were Allison and Greg Dakin, from Rocklands and Wave Hill station in the Northern Territory; Ben Mills and his partner Caitlin U’Ren, from Warrawagine station in Western Australia; and Ross and Natalie Olive, of Olive Brahmans in Queensland.
The supply chain tour was coordinated through the Livestock Export Program (LEP), jointly funded by Meat & Livestock Australia and LiveCorp.
The participants were randomly selected following a call for expressions of interest at the Beef Australia 2015 Livestock Export Forum held in Rockhampton in May.
The LEP is a joint initiative designed to improve live export animal welfare, supply chains, market access, stakeholder relationships, and research and development in Australia and overseas.
Allison and Greg Dakin manage 50,000 Brahman breeders and about 20,000 head of trading stock annually on Western Grazing’s Rocklands station near Camooweal (Qld) and Wave Hill station in the NT.
Western Grazing supplies to live export markets in Indonesia and Vietnam and during the supply chain tour the couple saw the company’s cattle being fed and processed through the TUM supply chain in West Java.
Mrs Dakin said the tour enabled the producers to follow the journey of Australian live cattle right through Indonesia’s supply chains, to see first-hand how well the stock were performing along, and how they were treated.
“The cattle looked excellent and were very well managed, with cleanliness a top priority. I was also impressed with the TUM abattoir we visited, which supplies wet markets with fresh beef,” Allison said.
“We learnt about the measures and animal welfare standards the importers and facility operators needed to demonstrate in order to have to meet the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System requirements. The facility was extremely clean and the skilled butchers have mastered the quick slaughter processes which is so important for animal welfare,” she said.
Mrs Dakin said demand for protein in Indonesia was strong and, as middle class consumers become wealthier, Australia was in a good position to continue supplying highly sought after northern cattle to this market.
This was an impression shared by Ben Mills, who runs 13,000 Brahman and Droughtmaster breeders on his northern WA property near Marble Bar and trades about 7500 head of cattle each year to live export markets.
He said feedback from Indonesian lotfeeders was that they were seeking high grade, purebred Brahman-type cattle, whereas the slaughter market preferred crossbred stock for the higher-end supermarket trade.
The producer group was continually on the move in order to experience and develop an appreciation of the diversity in the Indonesian industry. The visits also included modern feedlots in Lampung, Sumatera and West Java.
“It was great to be able to talk to the lotfeeders and abattoir managers about their stock preferences and it might help us further fine-tune our cattle to meet their requirements,” Mr Mills said.
“The trip also confirmed to me that our cattle are being looked after and the trade has undergone significant change since what was shown in 2011 – from our experience the cattle are well fed and are being housed in well-run feedlots and abattoirs.”
Ross and Natalie Olive run a 3000-head Brahman stud operation, selling bulls into northern Australia and exporting breeding stock.
They said the supply chain tour provided valuable insights that would help them continue to supply in-demand breeding stock to producers who sell cattle into the Indonesian market.
“What we had not heard before was that the Indonesian lotfeeders have a preference for grey Brahmans over reds, believing these produce lighter-coloured meat,” Mrs Olive said.
“We also visited a feedlot that is trialling crossbred cattle to compare meat yields with purebred Brahmans.”
Mrs Olive said the Indonesian lotfeeders seemed particularly interested in running pens of consistent lines of cattle, such as high quality Brahmans.
Many of these came from Australian companies and brand names that the group recognised, she said.
Australian Live Export Council chief executive Alison Penfold said Indonesia was Australia’s biggest market for live cattle exports, taking 746,193 head in 2014-15, which was more than double the second largest export market of Vietnam at just over 309,500 in that financial year.
Ms Penfold said the LEP supply chain tour was designed to increase producer engagement in the livestock export industry and foster a deeper understanding of cattle performance in this market.
- Key findings from the Indonesia Supply Chain Tour will be presented at LIVEXchange, the biennial Australian livestock export industry conference being held in Darwin on 25-26 November. Click here for details.