Elders dispelled some of the cloud over Australia’s cattle exports to its biggest customer, Indonesia, by confirming the first shipment since a ban imposed on animal welfare grounds was lifted three weeks ago.
The farm retail-to-feedlot group said it would in the second week of August transport 3,000 cattle to Indonesia, the first shipment from Australia since Canberra agreed earlier this month to reopen trade, but under tightened cattle handling restrictions.
While Elders will undertake the shipment one week later than it had initially anticipated, the resumption of trade will ease concerns over the extra red tape demanded by the Australian government, coupled with the delay in reassembling supply chain logistics.
Australian Agricultural Company, Australia’s largest cattle rancher, said on Monday that it was "not optimistic that the export of live cattle will recommence in early August".
Nonetheless, the Elders shipment represents just a small portion of the live cattle trade that Australia would usually be undertaking in what is usually a busy period for shipments.
Indonesia has allowed Australia an export quota of 180,000 cattle in the July-to-September quarter, for which the Elders shipment is the only one confirmed so far.
Elders’ route to permit has been eased by its ownership of an abattoir in Indonesia, meaning that the company can satisfy relatively easily Australian government demands on animal welfare safeguards throughout the processing chain.
Tony Dage, the group’s general manager, trading, told Agrimoney.com that Elders was looking to "progress the approval process with other [Indonesian] customers in coming weeks", to ensure further consignments.
Malcolm Jackman, the Elders chief executive, said that Northern Australia, whose cattle sector is largely reliant on exports to Indonesia, "is desperately awaiting recovery in the trade and it is vital that the volumes can be increased as rapidly as a sustainable solution will permit".
The ban was imposed in June following television footage showing serious mistreatment of cattle in Indonesian abattoirs.
Earlier, Elders shares closed down 4.0% at Aus$0.355 in Sydney.