Australian live cattle exports are forecast to fall by 24 percent this year, due to constrained cattle supplies, historically high cattle prices and impacts on demand in key markets.
Meat & Livestock Australia expects Australia to export around 800,000 cattle this year, compared to more than one million head exported last year.
Exports in 2016 were 21 percent lower than the previous year, affected by limited Australian cattle availability and high prices, and also a two-month halt in exports to Indonesia due to permit delays.
The increasing presence of Indian Buffalo meat is shaping as a major factor in the Indonesian market this year, since its import was legalised by the Indonesian Government in mid-2016.
An estimated 25,000 tonnes of Indian buffalo meat were imported into Indonesia in the second half of last year, and as much as 75,000t is expected to be imported between now and June 30.
The volume equates to about 375,000 live feeder cattle from Australia (working on 200kg of beef per 350kg live animal), a source of supply that was not available to the market this time last year.
Further adding to likely pressure beyond Ramadan (27 May 2017) are the implications the 5:1 feeder breeder policy will have, MLA notes.
“This may not create much pressure in the first stages of the year, but as time draws closer to December 2018, when the Indonesian Government audit is scheduled to occur, it may limit shipments.”
However, MLA says the long-term outlook for Australian cattle exports to Indonesia still remains optimistic, based on its burgeoning Muslim-dominated population, strong economic growth and a wet market beef preference for fresh meat continuing to underpin demand for Australian live cattle.
While not a putting a number of the potential reduction of live cattle exports from Australia to Indonesia, the projections document says it is likely to be less than the 580,000 head volume of 2016.
Australian cattle exports to Vietnam are expected to remain relatively steady year-on-year at around 200,000 head.
MLA says this will also depend on the outcome of discussions the Vietnamese government is currently having with Mexico, Uruguay, Brazil and Columbia over health protocols to import cattle from those counties.
The remainder of South-East Asia will continue to feel the pressure from limited Australian cattle availability in 2017, and is expected to be steady to slightly lower from 2016 levels in 2017.
Similarly, numbers to the Middle East were down slightly year-on-year in 2016, and aside from internal pressures on the Israeli government, volumes to that region should be similar, to slightly lower again, in 2017.
Source: Meat & Livestock Australia