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Indonesian weight restrictions causing pain

Rebecca TurnerCountryman

Weight restrictions placed on cattle heading to Indonesia earlier this year have resulted in exports to this market dropping 23 per cent on the same period in 2009 to a total of 424,607 head, according to the latest statistics released by LiveCorp.

But while Australian Livestock Exporters Council chief executive Loch MacKinnon has reported recent talks with Indonesia’s new director general of livestock services show little hope for a reversal on this restriction, opportunities for cattle exports to new markets are opening.

In particular, exports of cattle to Turkey so far in 2010 have jumped 617 per cent with a total of 1205 head exported from January to September.

LiveCorp has also reported cattle exports to the Middle East have jumped 126 per cent to 126,318 head, while exports of dairy cattle to China are also on the rise, up 87 per cent to a total of 37,309 head to September this year.

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Wellard Rural Exports managing director Steve Meerwald said the growing domestic market in Turkey and the inability for local supply to meet this demand had led to the Turkish Government’s decision to liberate import restrictions on both live and carcase beef.

Mr Meerwald said this decision had resulted in the release of tenders for several hundred thousand cattle of both processing and feeder weights.

He said demand from the private sector was strong.

“This is a very large market with a large population and they all like eating meat, ” Mr Meerwald said.

Mr Meerwald said that at this stage there was not a clear indication on how long the market would remain open, but there had been suggestions it may be extended.

“Predominantly, orders are for Bos Taurus-type cattle and, up until April, there is no problem meeting this demand, ” Mr Meerwald said.

After April temperatures become too extreme for Bos Taurus cattle to cope with the voyage and it is during this time exporters hope to encourage the new market to consider Bos Indicus-type cattle.

Mr Meerwald said at this stage, Turkey was unfamiliar with Bos Indicus cattle and at present, imports of these types of cattle were prohibited.

“To change this will require an education process, similar to what happened following the re-opening of markets in Egypt and Libya, it will be worth looking at to enable consistent supply is maintained during the summer months, ” Mr Meerwald said.

Mr Meerwald said weight restrictions on entering Indonesia appeared to be at a ‘deadlock’ and with the Turkish market also predominately looking to source feeder cattle, there was potential for more pressure to be put on feeder cattle prices.

He said heavier Bos Indicus cattle were in demand from Egypt and Libya, but presently there were not enough numbers available to fill a shipment.

“We are looking for availability of these types of cattle for next year, ” Mr Meerwald said.

Mr Meerwald said Wellard was also sourcing feeder cattle for the Turkish market, but these cattle must be yard-weaned, to meet the requirements of their buying order.

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