Live cattle trade rosy, comfort on welfare, city slickers ignorant: report
THE Cattle Council of Australia has returned from a tour of Indonesia declaring there’s a prosperous future for live cattle trade between the two countries.
In 2011 there was a ban for six months on live exports to Indonesia after Australians were shocked by animal cruelty outrages there.
Council CEO Margo Andrae has reported after her week-long supply chain tour of Indonesia in September.
She says strong supply chain partnerships and shared objectives regarding animal welfare, productivity and market access would drive the success.
In 2016, Indonesia’s beef consumption was 1.84kg per capita (population 261 million), up from 1.45kg a decade earlier, according to business research firm Statista. By 2020, that figure is expected to rise to 1.96kg per capita, and by 2025, to 2.13kg per capita.
Despite a trend away from red meat consumption in Australia and similarly advanced economies, consumption in populous developing countries with rapidly widening middle-classes is increasing, seen often as positive status symbol to social aspirants.
India, whose population is expected to grow larger than China’s, is outwardly seen as a vegetarian nation but red meat consumption there is growing and it’s forecast to soon be the world’s largest consumer of chicken meat.
Australia is the third largest exporter of beef behind Brazil and India and eats three times the global average for beef and five time the same average for sheep meat.
Ms Andrae said the tour covered all aspects of Australia’s cattle and beef trade with Indonesia, visiting Australian cattle in local feedlots, observing the slaughter of Australian cattle and seeing breeding programs which are helping Indonesia to build its own beef capacity using breeding cattle imported from Australia.
The tour also included visits to wet market and retail outlets where Australian beef, either locally slaughtered or imported as boxed product, is sold alongside beef from other parts of the world.
City-based commentary ignorant
Ms Andrae sought to assure importers and other Indonesian stakeholders that Australia was committed to the long-term future of the live cattle trade.
“Reliable supply is integral in any trade relationship, so it is understandable that our partners in Indonesia are asking about the future of the live export industry,” Ms Andrae said.
“They are keen observers of Australian politics and media and are still shaken by the 2011 trade suspension.
“Live export has been in the spotlight in Australia a lot this year (particularly sheep), but we’ve been keen to emphasise to Indonesian importers that the live cattle trade continues to enjoy bipartisan support in Australia and that we are working hard to outline the compelling case for the trade to continue long-term.
“Any city commentary calling for a live export ban is made a long, long way from the cattle properties of northern Australia and the feedlots of Indonesia.
“Suggestions that we could simply process northern cattle domestically is dangerously ignorant of the powerfully positive economic, social and animal welfare imperatives of why the live trade must continue.”
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Animal welfare, high standards
Australia’s 2016-17 red meat and livestock exports were valued at $13.3 billion, with live cattle exports worth $1.2 billion.
Cattle exports are performing strongly in 2018, with August cattle exports finishing just under 108,000 head, bringing the year-to-date total to 680,000 head, 24 per cent above year-ago volumes. For key markets such as Indonesia, year-to-August shipments are up 8 per cent at 360,000 head.
Ms Andrae said the outlook for cattle exports to Indonesia looked even brighter as a result of the recent conclusion of Indonesia–Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations.
Ms Andrae said alignment on animal welfare would continue to be the cornerstone of the relationship.
“There is no ‘finish line’ in livestock welfare,” Ms Andrae said.
“Australian producers expect high standards of care for their cattle throughout the supply chain. An absolute highlight of our tour and something which bodes well for the future was the way the Indonesians we met share the very same values in terms of the welfare of the cattle in their care.”
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