China prime target for live cattle

Rueben HaleCountryman
Mike Collard on his farm.
Camera IconMike Collard on his farm. Credit: Rueben Hale

Live exporter Wellard has announced plans to begin cattle exports to China in coming months.

A spokesman for the company said the first shipment could leave from Victoria as early as March, with a view to expand to Western Australia shortly after that.

It is another positive development for the company after it announced last month it had received its first Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System approval in China from the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, which allowed the company to start exporting beef cattle to China.

The news is a boost for the financially troubled exporter this year, after its share price plummeted last year following a series of profit downgrades triggered by mechanical problems on its carriers, shipping delays and high cattle prices.

Founder Mauro Balzarini’s stake in Wellard was diluted after he sold almost half of his shares to Chinese company Fulida as part of a deal to refinance his privately owned firm WGH Holdings.

The Wellard shipment will be preceded by a boatload of 1600 premium southern Victorian cattle expected to leave Portland for China in a few weeks time.

The cattle from the rural trading company Elders will be the first shipment of live cattle under the China-Australia feeder and slaughter cattle health protocol.

Badgingarra Angus cattle producer Mike Collard said the Chinese live export market offered producers the opportunity to obtain extra value by selling premium quality West Australian beef to China’s rapidly growing middle-class market.

“The expectation is that over time our particularly high-quality and disease-free Western Australian cattle will build a trusted brand in the Chinese market and consumers would gladly pay extra money for our products over cheaper alternatives from other parts of the world,” he said.

Mr Collard said building a strong and sustainable relationship with China for live cattle was in the industry’s long-term interests.

“The Indonesian market has proven to be very unpredictable, which makes it difficult for producers to anticipate demand,” he said.

“The Vietnamese market is similarly unreliable with exporters finding it challenging to prevent animals leaking to non-approved abattoirs.”

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