China calls for lamb, cattle

Rueben Hale and Jenne BrammerThe West Australian
V&V Walsh Amelia Park brand ambassador and executive chef Neal Jackson shows of some of the WA lamb products at a brand launch at Asia’s leading food and hospitality Tradeshow HOFEX, held in Hong Kong last week.
Camera IconV&V Walsh Amelia Park brand ambassador and executive chef Neal Jackson shows of some of the WA lamb products at a brand launch at Asia’s leading food and hospitality Tradeshow HOFEX, held in Hong Kong last week.

WA’s biggest meat processor, V&V Walsh, plans to have the first shipments of its chilled young lamb product airfreighted into China in June this year.

The shipments will be the fulfilment of a dream for V&V Walsh brothers, Peter and Greg Walsh, since being granted unprecedented access to the market in 2015. Since then, they have been working with their import partners to trial their chilled lamb product with Chinese consumers.

The processor has a unique export licence to China for chilled lamb and beef, the only one of its kind in Australia, with growing demand from the developing market expected to result in the need to expand its Bunbury processing facility.

Peter Walsh said the first shipment would be part of an official launch of the Amelia Park-branded chilled lamb product to that market.

“We have been sending chilled samples to our customers since getting our licence and the feedback we’ve received is that the tenderness and milder taste of our young lambs are extremely popular in our target markets in China,” he said.

Mr Walsh said there were further plans to promote WA lamb, with a series of Amelia Park-branded chilled lamb launches in Beijing and Shanghai later in June.

“It’s a fairly packed schedule, as we will also be returning to China in October to follow up with customers and visit Shandong and Harbin as potential markets,” he said.

Mr Walsh said New Zealand’s recent granting of access to the Chinese market would also be a “a shot in the arm” for the chilled trade.

“New Zealand’s contribution to the market will increase the total volume of lamb coming out of the region, which is currently worth millions of dollars per annum to the industry,” he said.

“With the prospect of increased market access and trade, our importers have responded by making unprecedented investment into the cold chain to enable them to carry stock for their customers.

“The flow-on effect, we hope, will be that the combined high-quality Australian and New Zealand lamb and beef exported to China will add value and, in turn, price stability for our producers, which will encourage more farmers back into livestock.”

Meanwhile, Gina Rinehart has kicked off early negotiations that would eventually see around 800,000 live cattle exported annually to China.

Hancock Prospecting general manager Adam Giles said the company was in negotiations to develop offtake agreements to supply live cattle from northern Australia to China, but would not comment on the customer involved.

The first shipments would not start until at least 2019 and would build up slowly to ultimately reach 800,000 cattle annually.

He confirmed if fully implemented, supply agreements would also be put in place to source cattle from pastoralists outside Hancock Prospecting’s own properties.

Exporter Wellard has also targeted China’s beef cattle market, appointing Chinese businessman Kanda Lu as an executive director to lead the company’s growth into the country.

Mr Lu, an assistant to the chairman of major Wellard shareholder Fulida, has been appointed as head of China initiatives and will also be managing director of Wellao, Wellard’s wholly owned Chinese subsidiary.

Wellard plans to develop its own supply chain in the Chinese market through Wellao’s investment in feedlots and an abattoir, as well as to work with third party importers.

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