Australian livestock export value almost A$1 billion

by Bryan Salvage
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NORTH SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — In 2009, global demand for Australian livestock delivered its strongest returns in seven years. Export earnings reached A$996.5 million ($872 million) and cattle exports to Indonesia totaled a record high, according to Meat & Livestock Australia (M.L.A.).

Live cattle exported from Australia increased by almost 10% in 2009, contributing a record A$662 million ($579 million) to the Australian economy. Last year, Australia exported 948,240 cattle, an increase of 80,000 from the 868,510 head exported in 2008.

Exports of goats experienced significant growth in 2009, with a 22% increase totaling 97,621 goats and a value of A$11.5 million ($10 million).

Although the volume of sheep exports was down 15% to 3.5 million head in 2009, the value remained stable at A$323 million ($283 million), reflecting stronger sheep prices for the year.

It is encouraging to see demand for high-quality, healthy and disease-free-Australian livestock remained strong in 2009 while many other industries’ revenues decreased significantly as a result of the global financial crisis, said Michael Finucan, M.L.A. livestock exports manager.

“The volume of live cattle exported from Australia last year was at its highest level since 2002, with the value of these cattle at an all-time high of A$662 million ($579 million),” Mr. Finucan said. “The trade was also greatly beneficial in providing an alternative market to cattle producers when the global financial crisis impacted demand for beef in markets such as the U.S. and Japan.”

Indonesia remains Australia’s largest market for cattle, primarily from northern Australia, with the 768,133 cattle exported there last year representing 81% of total export numbers, he added.

“Demand for Australian cattle was strong on the back of a growing Indonesian economy and the need for affordable protein to feed Indonesia’s rapidly-growing communities,” Mr. Finucan said. “We also saw 59,000 head of high-quality breeding dairy cattle exported in 2009, with 55% of these going to China to support the ongoing development of its dairy herd.”

In 2009, Kuwait was again the largest market for Australian sheep, with the 950,000 sheep exported there representing 26% of total exports. Bahrain was the second-largest market with 747,000 head exported to that country.

Regarding Australian goats, Malaysia remained the major destination market with a market share of 91%. A total of 99% of all Australian goat exports were delivered by air, Mr. Finucan said.
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