Alarm bells ring for Indian buffalo imports
Australia’s stake in its biggest live cattle market, Indonesia, is under threat with India increasing frozen buffalo imports into the South East Asian nation, a red meat industry figurehead has warned.
Demand for Indian buffalo meat has grown in Indonesia in the past two years, with the country’s salivating appetite for the cheap protein source posing challenges for Australia’s live cattle trade.
Meat and Livestock Australia international markets general manager Michael Finucan sounded alarm bells of the mounting threat at WAFarmers’ TrendingAg event in Perth last Thursday.
Mr Finucan, who travelled from his Singapore headquarters to the WA capital for the conference, said frozen Indian buffalo imports into Indonesia could reduce demand for Australian cattle.
“The Indian buffalo meat is really setting a floor in the market,” he said.
“We’ve seen it enter Indonesia, one of our largest live cattle markets, and it is a really cheap commodity product.”
Indian buffalo meat was granted access into Indonesia in 2016 as a measure by the Indonesian government to address the country’s high beef prices and also reduce its reliance on Australian imports.
The decision had an immediate impact on Australian cattle exports, with live cattle shipments to Indonesia falling 16 per cent year-on-year in 2017, at 512,000 head, according to MLA.
Boxed beef exports also declined 19 per cent year-on-year.
Mr Finucan said frozen buffalo was not the only threat to Australia’s beef industry.
He also cited Brazil expanding its red meat footprint and the United States’ strengthening cattle herd as potentially impacting the Australian market. “(Brazil) are getting a better product, so we have to watch them,” he said.
“There is also a wall of US beef on the market at the moment and they’re at peak production.
“At the moment, Australia is performing relatively well against increased competition but we have to keep in front of it.”
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