Live Export

Maiden voyage for Australia’s newest cattle exporter

Beef Central, 07/05/2020

Managing Director Patrick Underwood inspecting high grade Brahman steers for today’s shipment to Vietnam.


AUSTRALIA’S newest entrant into the live cattle export market will send its first shipment tonight, after loading 4500 steers and bulls aboard the MV Ocean Swagman in Townsville today.

Australian Cattle Enterprises, headquartered in Darwin, has been established by managing director Patrick Underwood, who has extensive experience in the northern cattle industry and export trade.

Mr Underwood is a member of a well-known Northern Territory grazing family and previously worked with Meat & Livestock Australia overseeing Australia’s beef and cattle trade in Indonesia.

He later worked for Elders’ livestock export division North Australia Cattle Company and was an equity partner in that business after its sale to Australian management and Chinese equity partners in 2017, before departing the business last year to start his own cattle backgrounding business. Earlier this year he applied for a livestock exporting licence which was approved last month.

The company’s first consignment will leave Townsville tonight to be delivered to large Vietnamese lot feeder Hoa Phat, which has grown in recent years to become not only Vietnam’s largest importer of Australian cattle but the largest individual importer of Australian cattle.

Hoa Phat is a major Vietnamese steel manufacturer which has significant agricultural operations spanning pork, poultry, egg, cattle and stockfeed production. It’s three modern cattle feedlots in southern, central and northern Vietnam are built to Australian standards and considered world class.

Mr Underwood described Australian Cattle Enterprises (ACE) as an integrated cattle company with a head office in Darwin.

In a statement to media launching the business today he said ACE was “committed to providing a sustainable, ethical and best practice partnership between Australian cattle producers and their export markets”.

“ACE strives to provide high-quality livestock to global markets backed by generations of experience in the Australian pastoral industry combined with industry best practice in livestock management and export.  In doing so we aim to improve animal welfare in overseas markets, create jobs in local communities, provide food for families and help improve living standards in developing countries. We are committed to achieving our vision safely, ethically and transparently.”

“The support for ACE has been nothing short of humbling, from the Australian government to the livestock industry and to customers in our overseas markets.  For me, the first shipment of ACE is the culmination of hard work and doing what we say we are going to do. This is the most basic of philosophies, but it resonates with people who mostly strive for simplicity in an ever-complex world.  It is the foundation of trust,” he said.

ACE’s first shipment includes approximately 3500 Brahman and Brahman-cross steers and bulls weighing between 450-650kg, and an additional 1000 feeder bulls weighing between 360-450kg.

Most of the cattle are high-grade Brahmans with some crossbreds including Brangus, Charolais and Droughtmaster.

“These cattle are well suited to the Vietnam climate which is similar to North Queensland,” he said.

Mr Underwood said well respected Australian vet and regular Beef Central contributor Dr Ross Ainsworth is on board the maiden voyage of the vessel, working alongside an accredited stockman (See Dr Ainsworth’s latest South East Asian market report published today before he boarded the Swagman for Vietnam)

“Dr Ainsworth is one of the most experienced vets in the industry,” Mr Underwood said.

“He has undertaken a 14-day self-isolation in Townsville to be allowed on the vessel.

“The stockman has been working full-time on the vessel for the last 2.5 months.

“Both he and Ross are doing consecutive voyages for ACE on the same ship as it is due back in Townsville in 23 days’ time for another Vietnam run with similar cattle for a different port and feedlot.”

Mr Underwood said navigating through the COVID19 challenges and restrictions has been at the forefront of preparations for the trip.

“We understand how important it is to get this right and comply with the regulations in place, both in Australia and overseas.

“We have a strict COVID Management Plan for both the NT and Qld, signed off by the respective state Chief Health Officers.

“Our internal policies include maintaining social distancing and practicing good health and hygiene. As the exporter, we are signing off externally on all paperwork for the vessel with the shipping agent and the Australian Government vet, which would ordinarily be done on board the vessel.

“ACE is committed to providing the highest standards of animal welfare across the supply chain from procurement through to processing in destination markets.”

In addition to two shipments in June he said Australian Cattle Enterprises has another two planned for June.



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  1. Michael VAIL, 09/05/2020

    Congratulations Patrick; I’m sure you’ll do well … 😃👍

  2. Geoffrey Beere, 08/05/2020

    Go for it Patrick and Family!

  3. Mike Shannon, 08/05/2020

    Congratulations Hamish, Patrick and the team on your first live cattle export for ACE. Well done, all the best for the future.

  4. Peter Dunn, 07/05/2020

    Great to see we are operating at where live export needs to be. Much hard work but well done to Patrick Underwood and all others involved. Australia needs more of these people.

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