INDONESIA: STEERS $5.40KG LIVE WEIGHT (IDR 9903 = 1 AUD)
Indonesian importers of Australian cattle still remain hesitant to import despite dropping Australian cattle prices due to foot and mouth disease risks and competition from other sources, most notably the shift to Indian buffalo. Prices remain fixed for Australian slaughter weight steers at about IDR 53,000. Prices of beef in Jakarta wet markets have risen to about IDR 135,000 from IDR 120,000 before Ramadan but demand has softened. The range in prices in wet markets and especially modern retail is now large due to many options for beef cuts and a large range of quality, including local and imported beef, which makes price reporting a challenge.
FMD and lumpy skin disease continue to threaten cattle farms in Indonesia. The hardest impacted sector is the dairy cattle industry. There are varying reports but up to 40 percent of the dairy herd is estimated to have been lost in East Java, which accounted for about 60 percent of the dairy industry of Indonesia. This includes those who culled their healthy cattle rather than risking them contracting and dying from FMD. The impact has largely been attributed to the delay in the initial rollout of the vaccination program and poor biosecurity in smallholder cooperatives. The dairy herd is now beginning its rebuild, which will be expensive and slow, but may offer some opportunities to establish more productive cooperatives through strategic commercial investment. It will be imperative that biosecurity is enforced.
LSD continues to move through Indonesia and there is a renewed push to increase farmer awareness of the virus. The Australian Government publicly announced the arrival of the first tranche of 500,000 doses of LSD vaccine to Indonesia with a further 500,000 doses available if needed. While availability of vaccines remains important, the administration of the vaccine is more important. There is still no known FMD equivalent vaccination program established to ensure farmers are routinely vaccinating their cattle. The reason for this is largely because the LSD vaccine types have issues, including the potential to have vaccine reactions that can mimic the virus itself.
During a recent visit to Yogyakarta, I was fortunate to talk with several farmers with local cattle. When travelling through Bali or Vietnam there are cattle visible on the side of the road and in rice fields; regulations in much of the rest of Indonesia mean that it is difficult to see cattle from the road. Cattle are generally kept as cow calf units in back yards with 1-3 cows reasonably common. Owners have to cut grass on a daily basis to feed the cows, or make arrangements with rice farmers to collect rice hay. Reproduction is usually done via artificial insemination from the local vet and because the cattle are tethered it relies on the owner to observe heat, mainly by observation. Farmers I talked to had surprisingly high reproductive success. Young cattle are sold and fed by finishing operations, which then supply into abattoirs.
The farmers I spoke to were aware of FMD in Indonesia and one of them had a friend that had been impacted by infection of his cattle with the cows losing significant condition. Both farmers were also aware of vaccination and their local veterinarian had FMD vaccine in stock. They told me they had implemented some biosecurity measures, such as not letting any outsiders come in contact with the cattle, which were obviously not in force during my visit.
Even with awareness of the virus, access to vaccine, and an understanding of its potential to impact the health of their cattle, they had done little to protect their investment. A stark reminder of how hard it is to get anyone to change their behaviour.
DARWIN FEEDER STEERS (AUD $3.50)
Reports from the NTLEA, based on feedback from buyers, is that the feeder steers out of Darwin have ranged from $3.30kg at the start of June to $3.50kg for feeder steers exported at the end of the month (purchased mid May). For Darwin heifers the price has changed from around $3kg to $3.20kg in the same period.
Numbers below have been approximated based on combined figures. DAFF has a policy of releasing figures as they come to hand and there remains a challenge between having timely vs accurate numbers.
VIETNAM: STEERS $4.81KG LIVE WEIGHT (VND15,540 = 1AUD)
Interest in importing live cattle trading seems to be growing in Vietnam despite no real change from the demand side. Two shipments arrived in May, including one breeder cattle shipment. We have seen this in Vietnam before as importers return into the market and we see a scramble for imports and regain of market share irrespective of the relative supply demand. This is largely driven by the ambitious and opportunistic nature of Vietnamese business people, and the fact that they are generally trading slaughter weight animals that they plan on selling relatively quickly. It is unlikely that we will see this to the extent as we have seen in the past, but I have personally been contacted by companies that have not traded for many years looking to re-enter the market, so it may be an indication of what is to come.
Australian steer prices into abattoirs seem to have taken a reasonable drop from VND 80,000 to VND 74,000, theoretically making them competitive and profitable again if the market demand returns. Thai cattle are trading at VND 80,000, which also explains the renewed interest in Australian cattle. Local cattle with smaller frames are trading between VND 65,000-69,000kg liveweight.
Hot beef sold into wet markets is wholesaling at about VND 205,000 (AUD $13.33).
For beef exporters to Vietnam there are many opportunities for trading at all levels. One trend to be aware of is fat-infused beef products in Vietnam, which are well accepted in most retail stores and food service, and attract a reasonably competitive price.
PHILIPPINES: SLAUGHTER STEERS $3.71KG LIVEWEIGHT (P37.4 = 1AUD)
The price of beef and slaughter steers in the Philippines has remained relatively constant. Beef knuckle in the wet market is about P560 and in the supermarket P600. Slaughter steer price in Mindanao is between P130-140.