The first frozen beef shipment from the Port of Townsville for more than a decade leaves today, signalling what the Port of Townsville hopes will become a new export trade directly from North Queensland’s largest general cargo port.
Mackay abattoir, Thomas Borthwick & Sons (Australia) Pty Ltd, which processes around 2400 head of cattle a week, mainly for the Chinese and Japanese markets, is undertaking the Port of Townsville trial as a northern supply chain alternative.
Borthwick’s General Manager Jason Delaney said the company exports about 30 containers a week.
“Townsville would give us a lot more flexibility and the distance is closer so over all it’s going to give us a better turnaround,’’ Mr Delaney said.
“Long term the potential is massive for us especially if we can get a rail service through to Townsville. There is also the potential for a saving in shipping costs on every container.
“If all goes well, we would hope to see another shipment from Townsville before Christmas, so while there’s plenty of opportunity it’s still a long road ahead.’’
Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said the trial backed in the port’s solid trade result last financial year.
In 2018/19, trade at the port increased 4.7 per cent with 7.68 million tonnes of freight going through the port’s gates, while 16 cruise ships visited the city bringing with them 20,000 visitors.
“When the port is strong, our city is strong,’’ Mr Stewart said.
“It’s why the Palaszczuk Government is investing in a $193 million upgrade of the port channel, $40 million Berth 4 upgrade and $48 million intermodal facility.
“It’s great to see the port working with Queensland businesses to trial new exports and grow our city’s economic potential.”
Port of Townsville Trade and Business Development manager, Maria James said attracting frozen beef for the export market was a key component in the Port’s refrigerated container growth strategy and one of several targeted products.
“We are the closest port for Asian markets, which makes the trip quicker and ultimately cuts costs for Borthwick’s,’’ she said.
“This is a great initiative and follows the recent refrigerated melon trial from the Port of Townsville which has wide-ranging implications for the region’s growers by boosting the capacity and sustainability of north Queensland’s horticultural sector.
“Preliminary data was very positive but while we await the final results, the Port is continuing to build confidence in sea freighted logistics and encouraging growth in refrigerated container exports. Hopefully chilled beef exports could follow on from frozen but again we’re moving forward with cautious optimism, but there is certainly enormous potential ahead for all rural producers. Increasing container export volumes across the sector will benefit the whole region economically.”
Qube has transported the frozen beef by road to Townsville.
Northern Stevedoring Services (NSS) is loading the product on board ANL vessel Bomar Spring for export to Singapore and Jakarta.