Cattle shipments to Australia’s largest export markets in January remained well below five-year-averages for the month, according to Department of Agriculture data released this week.
In a rare occurrence China became the largest individual export destination for Australian cattle for the month, importing 17,879 cattle, primarily dairy breeders, from the Victorian port of Portland.
Feeder and slaughter cattle exports remained at subdued levels compared to previous years.
After exports to Indonesia rose in December to meet a shipping deadline for the Ramadan/Lebaran period commencing early April 2022, shipments to the major market fell to just 14,745 head in January, 61 percent below the five-year January average.
That was the lowest monthly volume of cattle shipments from Australia to Indonesia for more than five years, going back to a low of 3734 cattle in September 2016. That sudden slump resulted from the introduction of a new mandatory breeding cattle import policy imposed by the Indonesian Government and the associated delays to the issue of import permits.
Exports to Vietnam totalled just 2129 head in January, 91pc below the five-year monthly average for January, and the fifth consecutive month in which exports to Vietnam* have been less than 10,000 head.
The reduced volumes of Australian cattle exports to Indonesia and Vietnam over the past five months in particular have been attributed largely to disruptions to demand caused by COVID-19 in the second half of last year and the continued record high prices of Australia export cattle.
The increase in shipments to China meant that Portland was the largest cattle export port for the month with 17,879 head shipped, followed by Fremantle (10,138), Darwin (8917) and Townsville (2129).
(An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that exports to Indonesia have been less than 10,000 head for the past five consecutive months. That information applied to Vietnam, and the error has now been corrected)