THE changing dynamics of Australia’s live cattle export trade have been reflected in the latest monthly shipping data, with Fremantle overtaking Townsville in May to become Australia’s second largest export port by volume so far in 2018.
Exports from Fremantle from January to May 2018 totalled 76,653, up 134pc on the same period last year.
Exports from Townsville for the year to date have amounted to 71,292, down 29pc on the same period last year.
At the same time exports from Portland in Victoria have also increased dramatically, surging by 146pc to 55,298 head between January and May.
Driving the increase in exports from Southern ports has been a rise in orders for Australian feeder cattle from Russia, Turkey and Israel, plus slaughter and breeder (dairy and to a lesser extent beef) cattle from China.
Meat & Livestock Australia’s latest LiveLink report released last night shows Australian cattle exports to China are running 78pc higher in 2018 compared to the previous corresponding period of 2017, totalling 39,322 head.
Cattle exports to Israel are running 76pc higher at 17,219 cattle.
Australia has already shipped 19,260 cattle to Turkey in the first five months of 2018, close to the entire volume shipped to the market in 2017, which amounted to 20,791 in three shipments in October and November.
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources records also indicate that Australia has exported 30,822 feeder cattle to Russia so far in 2018.
That compares to no cattle shipped to Russia at all last year. Australia’s last shipments of feeder cattle to the market were 26,812 head delivered in January and March of 2016.
A spokesperson from Wellard Rural Exports told Beef Central that each of these markets are traditionally supplied by southern cattle which explains the increase in shipping volumes this year from Portland and Fremantle.
Total Australian cattle exports in May totalled just over 91,500 head, which represents the largest monthly shipments from Australia since December 2016.
For the 12-months ending May, cattle exports are down one percent year to 941,500 head.
Feeder and slaughter cattle exports to Indonesia in May were 39,400 head, a modest lift on the month prior.
For the 12-months ending May, shipments to Indonesia are back 11pc, at 495,995 head.
Cattle exports to Vietnam in May totalled 22,200 head (20,000 slaughter cattle and 2000 feeder cattle).
For the 12-months ending May, exports to Vietnam are running 10pc higher year-on-year, at 171,700 head.
MLA reports that the market in Vietnam remains active, with steady demand for Australian cattle.
“Lower export prices in recent months have also supported live cattle exports