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Exporter bullish on Israel

Rueben HaleThe West Australian

Melbourne-based Otway Livestock Exports is the latest player in the tightening WA live export cattle and sheep market.

OLE has just landed its largest shipment to date from Fremantle - 14,000 cattle and 8500 crossbred lambs to Israel's largest slaughterhouse which supplies more than 50 per cent of the market.

OLE managing director Alan Schmidt said the shipment went on Wellard charter ship Ocean Drover.

Of the shipment, 6000 cattle and 4000 lambs were sourced from Adelaide

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Mr Schmidt said the company would like to source most of its livestock from WA but that was not possible in the current market.

"The vessel is a very good, modern, purpose-built livestock carrier," he said.

"We are trying to establish a supply of cattle from the Eastern States so that we have diversity of supply.

"At times of the year competition for cattle in WA becomes intense.

"By diversifying we have more certainty around our ability to fill vessels."

Mr Schmidt said OLE was focusing on bulls for its client.

"They are a large, family-owned, diversified lot feeder, processor and wholesaler retailer," he said.

"Our client's preference is for bulls and the reason is that the market has a preference for leaner meat, which bulls produce.

"Also, from a lot-feeding perspective, bulls convert fodder into live weight more efficiently than either steers or heifers.

"But now there is also an emerging market in Israel for higher-quality meat.

"We have started to establish a supply of Wagyu cattle to the market and we anticipate this will steadily grow over the coming years.

Currently we are exporting around 1000 head per year of these types of cattle."

Mr Schmidt said, based on demand from its client, OLE had ramped up operations across major livestock centres across Australia and the company was on the lookout for lot feeder partners.

"Our point of difference is that we work very closely with our end-user customer," he said.

"We are constantly looking at ways of improving our delivery efficiency and improving the quality of cattle that we deliver.

"We are also trying very hard to work closely with Australian breeders to ensure that they have a good understanding of the customers' requirements."

OLE buyer Graham Brown said OLE had established itself as a serious new player in the WA market.

Mr Brown buys a range of cattle and sheep at Muchea Livestock Centre each week that are backgrounded at a range of northern feedlots in preparation for shipping to Israel.

"We plan to continue improving the efficiency of our supply chain," he said.

"At the same time we are looking at other emerging markets in the Middle East and Asia.

"Compared to many of the companies that export from Australia we are only a small operation.

"We are not a commodity supplier, but rather we work on developing close relationships with both ends of the supply chain and then maintaining these relationships."

Mr Brown said buying for Israel was a challenge because it was a sophisticated market. "The customers are always able to be competitive in the market place for high-quality cattle and sheep that suit their requirements," he said.

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