Australia’s largest cattle exporter Wellard Rural Exports has announced that 2014-15 was a record for the company in terms of the amount of cattle it exported in a single financial year.
The Fremantle, WA, based company exported 389,327 cattle in 2014-15.
Its previous record was 318,262 cattle exported in 2013-14.
Wellard also set a company record for the most cattle exported in a single month, with 54,314 shipped in April 2015, exceeding the previous mark of 46,000 head set in July 2014.
Wellard CEO Mauro Balzarini said the annual record was driven by a combination of shipping capacity, increasing trade with Vietnam and strong demand from Indonesia. Exports were also delivered to China (dairy and beef breeding cattle), the Philippines and the Middle East.
“In particular, the addition of the MV Ocean Ute to our shipping fleet has enabled us to meet strong demand from Vietnamese and Indonesian cattle importers, ensuring Wellard continued to provide a competitive marketing option for Australian cattle producers,” he said.
“However, the big numbers form just a component of Wellard’s live export story. The cattle have been transported on vessels that provide optimal animal welfare outcomes to importers who have embraced Australia’s Exporter Supply Chain Assurance Scheme and the animal welfare benefits it can provide.
“Our staff continue to do a great job. The logistics of sourcing, quarantining and shipping so many cattle requires professional and dedicated staff and robust systems and Wellard is proud to have both.”
Two million breeding cattle to Indonesia?
The Northern Territory’s primary industry minister Willem Westra van Holthe has just returned from a trade mission to Indonesia armed with optimistic suggestions that the country is looking to import two millon breeding cattle by 2018.
There have been big statements made about the trade’s potential before but this one is well out there at the more extreme end of the scale.
It is hard to see how Indonesia, which imported a record 700,000 feeder and slaughter cattle last year, could suddenly ramp up to importing such volumes of breeding cattle, and, if orders for those volumes were to materialise, how northern Australia could supply them.
The northern herd has run down in recent years as producers wound back breeding programs in response to negative market signals and lower prices caused by the Indonesian Government’s ill-fated self-sufficiency program and associated import cut-backs from 2009 to 2014, while widespread drought has also impacted northern breeding programs and weaning rates.
Australian breeding cattle are also now in stronger demand and worth more locally as restockers with available grass seek to rebuild herds to capitalise on the much-improved prices for cattle both domestically and for live export markets.
Grandiose projections aside, the NT Minister says there are strong signs that Indonesian import demand for beef breeding cattle is increasing.
He visited a cattle breeding program in East Kalimantan last week where he says the Provincial Government has immediate plans to import 11,000 breeding cattle initially. He said Government officials told him that the Indonesian Government has an ambitious goal to increase cattle imports to two million by 2018 as it looks to increase its domestic herd and improve the nation’s ability to be self-sufficient.
“When I met with the Provincial Government I did indicate it would be difficult to meet such a large target but the Northern Territory Government will do everything it can to help achieve that goal.
“At the end of the day, it all comes down to the commercial reality and making sure the prices are right but this undoubtedly indicates big things for the Territory live cattle export market.”
He said he expects the Northern Territory cattle industry, which exported 251,232 to Indonesia in 2014, will play a big role in helping the Indonesian Government to achieve its breeding aims.
The Indonesian Government is also providing financial support to its Eastern Provinces so they can import breeding stock from Australian shores.
“It’s important the Northern Territory is regarded as a supplier of choice for breeder cattle and this latest trade mission has gone a long way to achieving that.”
The live export trade is worth around $230 million to the Territory’s economy each year, with Indonesia making up a large chunk of that as the NT’s largest export market.
Q3 permit limbo continues
Meanwhile exporters and importers are still in limbo as they wait for the Indonesian Government to allocate and release cattle imports for the third quarter, which commences today. An announcement in terms of permit volumes is expected any any time from now on.
Source: Wellard Rural Exports/NT Government