News

China suspensions lifted on five Australian export beef plants

Jon Condon, 30/05/2024

 

FIVE Australian export beef processing plants suspended for trade into China for lengthy periods have had access restored overnight.

The businesses under suspension started receiving advices from China’s General Administration of Customs (GACC) around 10pm last night that they could resume trade. Some have been granted access for both chilled and frozen product, and some for frozen only.

The five plants re-admitted for China overnight include:

  • JBS Dinmore, Qld (Est. No 235 – Chilled & Frozen)
  • Northern Cooperative Meat Co, Casino NSW (Est. No 239 – Chilled & Frozen)
  • Kilcoy Global Foods, Kilcoy Qld (Est. No 640 – Chilled & Frozen):
  • JBS Beef City, Toowoomba Qld (Est. No 170 – Frozen only)
  • Meramist, Caboolture Qld (Est. No 416 – Frozen only).

A further two plants remain on China’s suspended list over minor regulatory or documentation issues picked up years ago. They include John Dee, Warwick, Qld (Est No 243) suspended in August 2020, and Australian Country Choice, Brisbane Qld (Est No 1620), suspended in October 2021.

Those two plants differ from the others, being suspended for highly unusual residue detections (in once case, an ear-infection treatment for dogs or horses) rather than regulatory/documentation issues. The full GACC list is available here.

Beef Central foreshadowed the lifting of plant suspensions by China in this article published on Monday.

Combined, the five plants re-admitted overnight have a daily capacity of around 6000 head.

The breakthrough came six months after three other Australian processors had their China suspensions lifted, over unrelated matters to do with COVID.

JBS Australia, which had two plants impacted by the suspensions, issued the following statement, attributed to chief executive officer Brent Eastwood:

JBS is pleased to be advised that the Chinese government has lifted the last of the trade suspensions that had been imposed on our Dinmore (Ipswich) and Beef City (Toowoomba) meat processing plants in Queensland.

We have always maintained a commitment to excellence, quality, and safety in all our operations, and this decision by the Chinese authorities reaffirms the high standards upheld by our plant.

We extend our gratitude to our employees, our partners and the Australian government, who have supported us throughout this period. Their unwavering dedication and hard work have been instrumental in achieving this favourable outcome.

As we move forward, we remain dedicated to delivering premium-quality products to our customers and fostering a prosperous, cooperative relationship with our Chinese counterparts.

Northern Cooperative Meat Co chief executive Simon Stahl welcomed the announcement, saying Casino – like all red meat processors – needed the broadest possible range of customer markets with which to trade.

Simon Stahl

“It’s mixed emotions for our business,” Mr Stahl said.

“It’s been a long haul over the last four years for us and our customers from the suspension, as well as other challenges like COVID,” he said.

“When you consider than China is often in Australian beef’s top three or four export destinations by volume, and likely to continue to grow, we want to be a part of it.”

Since the suspensions were imposed over several stages since 2020, Australia has gradually lost market share in China’s imported beef market, currently accounting for just six percent of total trade.

There’s been enthusiastic response this morning from across the red meat supply chain to the news.

The Australian Meat Industry Council, whose membership includes export meat processors, welcomed the lifting of suspensions imposed earlier for technical reasons.

The council had worked tirelessly advocating for the lifting of the remaining suspensions with government as well as industry partners in China, AMIC chief executive Patrick Hutchinson said.

“After four years of advocacy on the behalf of red meat exporters we have finally achieved a fantastic result,” he said.

“This is a great outcome not only for these companies but the clients some of them process for, and the thousands of farmers and feedlots they support through cattle purchase.”

“As a matter of priority, we will continue working with the Federal Government and China on not only having the remaining two exporters’ suspensions lifted, but also restarting the new opportunities for other Australian red meat businesses who have been waiting for access to the Chinese Market.”

Cattle Australia acting chief executive officer Ivar Bisseling said it had been a long haul, and the job wasn’t finished yet, but the step by China to reinstate the facilities was a great outcome for the processing companies involved, the beef producers and lotfeeders who supply them, and the entire Australian red meat supply chain.

“It is the role of Governments to open markets for Australian products, not close them, and to develop supply chains in conjunction with industry, and this is a great example of industry and Government positively collaborating to achieve a tremendous outcome with an important international customer.

“We look forward to all establishments soon being able to export beef to China without restriction, and the resumption of full and unfettered trade with one of our key trading partners. This positive step today creates the opportunity to open new avenues of access to the Chinese market, for not just the beef industry but Australian agriculture as a whole.”

Labour challenges remain

Leader of The Nationals David Littleproud said the lifting of suspensions was a positive step for Australian beef farmers and producers, saying it was a huge boost for the beef industry.

“I would like to thank the Chinese Ambassador for turning the page on this crucial issue,” he said.

“The challenge now will be the strain on the processing workforce, which is why we desperately need to reinstate the Agriculture Visa, to help give our beef industry the tools our farmers need.

“The sector is currently working at just 60 to 70 percent of capacity. The Ag Visa would help the workforce by allowing more capacity and in turn, increasing supply, which would help drive beef prices down for families at the checkout amid a cost-of-living crisis.

“We need foreign workers at the right quantities and in the right place and that’s why a future Coalition Government will reinstate the Ag Visa, while still having a common sense migration policy.”

Bans still remain on two other processors, including the John Dee abattoir in the electorate of Maranoa.

“The abattoirs which remain suspended are hopeful they will be included in the next phase of China’s bans lifted. They are receiving positive feedback and of course, we support the speedy removal of China’s bans across all abattoirs,” Mr Littleproud said.

 

  • More on the implications of the listing of suspensions for Australian beef later today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. Mike Teelow, 01/06/2024

    Can any one tell me how this helps the cattle producers with the elimination of so many meat works by the big companies Australia wide
    Until we get a huge drought and we greatly loose numbers
    We will no have a day in the sun

  2. Peter Dunn, 30/05/2024

    Let me be the devil’s advocate. What David Littleproud says about a “positive step” is true, but reality demands that the words “for the time being” must be added. The lifting of the suspensions is wonderful relief after years of unwarranted, unlawful, and unjust punishment from our ‘major trading partner’, and who needs enemies with a major trading partner like Australia has?
    Ironically, the lifting of the suspensions creates the impression that looking for alternate markets was unnecessary, and that the bully is not a bully after all.
    As sure as the sun rises in the east, our major trading partner will make an expansionist move. A nation does not build a huge military force to participate only in massive parades and to otherwise sit idle. When that move is made, a new trade paradigm will be created, and it will not be favourable to Australia. Either way, the choices are tough in the extreme.
    Eyes open, think about taking the opportunity now, to look hard at the limited-term game on offer, and then look hard at what is possible in other playing fields. When the time comes, our choices of friends and associates are what will sustain us.

    • Ted Watkins, 01/06/2024

      100 % right Peter we do not need to be monopolised by our “frenemy” (habitually pulling the rug when it suits) let’s concentrate more on alternative markets and astutely spread our risk. Instead of this broken record pantomime of China.

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