Article – Asian diners get taste for northern beef

by 31 July 2014

25 July 2014
Jacinta Bolsenbroek
Farm Weekly

PHOTO: Kimberley Agricultural Investment company chief executive officer and director JianZhong Yin believes the Ord region can benefit from a “dining boom”.

THE WA agriculture industry is on the cusp of a boom as demand grows in neighbouring countries such as Asia.

Touting the phrase “dining boom” to describe the flourishing industry into new markets, industry representatives point to a new potential for Australian exporters.

Consolidated Pastoral Company chief executive officer Troy Setter says a dining boom had the potential to grow the Kimberly region’s beef industry.

“There is an increased demand for fresh Aussie beef throughout Asia with considerable demand coming from Vietnam, and we are seeing high demand and increased prices out of Asia,” Mr Setter said.

“We have seen a huge change in demand (through Darwin and on the east coast). There is a huge demand for live cattle and boxed beef into Vietnam out of Australia and our company has been able to take advantage of that.”

The Kimberley regions may not yet be seeing the same demand, but Mr Setter said he is definitely seeing an increase in the regional centres of Townsville, Queensland, and Darwin, Northern Territory.

“If you go back a few years ago, there were zero cattle going into Vietnam from Australia, and now we will see more than 100,000 live cattle from Australia to Vietnam, coming out of Darwin, Karumba and Townsville,” Mr Setter said.

“From the central to eastern side, we are seeing considerable demand for the heavier cattle that Indonesia don’t take and we are also seeing increased numbers heading out to Malaysia and Philippines.”

Mr Setter said there would be great potential for Australia from Asian food demand, but we couldn’t just expect it to happen.

“We need to actively pursue the dining boom,” Mr Setter said.

“We can’t be complacent and wait for it to happen, we actually need to ensure our marketing organisations and companies involved in exporting are securing demand and working with our customers.

“I think we will see increased demand come into WA, like we have seen in the east. We have seen some slaughter cattle and finished cattle shipments go out of ports such as Wyndham in the past 12 months, and it’s been a while since we have seen that.”

The Kimberley Agricultural Investment (KAI) company chief executive officer and director Jian Zhong Yin believes the Ord region can benefit from the dining boom.

“There is a growing demand for higher quality food in China,” Mr Yin said.

“Because China has been developing for many years and people are becoming richer and more aware of healthy food, there is a need for better quality food.”

Mr Yin believes the Ord and the entire Kimberley can benefit from the boom, but said there are a few issues to address before benefits will be seen.

“How much benefit we can get from this boom, depends very much on infrastructure,” Mr Yin said.

“The demand from China will be huge.

“For example the produce from the Ord area could probably satisfy the demand of a single big city in China.

“But it all depends on the cost, logistics, and whether we can deliver fresh produce.”

Mr Yin said Wyndham Port was closer to China than Melbourne or Sydney, but the cost for shipping was much greater.

“This is something we need to work out,” Mr Yin said.

“We need to see if this can be addressed, to make a change.”

Mr Setter said a lot of interest was already coming out of China for Aussie beef.

“Even though the protocol is not conducive to live northern cattle, the inquiry and demand from China is substantial at the moment,” Mr Setter said.

“I would think Vietnam could become a sustainable 150,000 to 200,000 head market for live Australian cattle every year, and we could see substantial demand and numbers go live into China, if the protocol negotiations are successful.

“I think it will happen, it’s a matter of when.

“But Australia needs to be careful and needs to put a lot of work into our relationships with all our Asian customers, because we need to actively secure the markets, work with our customers and deliver what they want.

“We can’t just sit back waiting for them to come to us – we have to put energy into learning what our customers want and ensuring we deliver that.”

Courtesy of Farm Weekly

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