Australian live export industry leaders and Government officials are working with Egyptian authorities to resolve a 'freeze' that has been placed on a large consignment of Australian cattle in the market.
Egyptian authorities halted the slaughter of a consignment of Western Australian cattle delivered to the market on the MV Nada last month, after veterinarians raised a query about the presence of Hormonal Growth Promotant (HGP) implants in the ears of some of the animals.
An article in The Australian newspaper on Friday morning reported that Egypt has banned the use of HGPs in cattle, and quoted an Egyptian Government veterinarian as saying the remaining 16,526 cattle in the consignment could be reloaded and sent back to Australia if all were found to have HGP implants.
However, Australian export industry sources maintain that HGPs are not covered or mentioned in Egypt’s import protocol for live cattle, which has been in place for several years.
A DAFF spokesman also confirmed that Egyptian import requirements for live cattle from Australia do not require Government certification on the use of the hormones.
An industry source explained to Beef Central on Friday afternoon that he understood that Egyptian veterinarians had notced implants in the ears of animals and, having little to no knowledge of HGP implants, called for the immediate suspension of the slaughter of the cattle while they lodged a query with the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service.
He said it was an issue that should be relatively simple to resolve, provided the Australian Government acted quickly and directed adequate resources and expertise to explaining the issue.
However he added that the situaiton also had potentially serious implications, with the delay costing a fortune for the importer which was stranded with cattle in feedlots that it could not slaughter in the middle of the peak demand period of Ramadan.
Graham Daws of Emanual Exports, one of the exporters who owned cattle in the consignment, told Beef Central on Friday morning that he only learned about the issue via this morning’s media report.
“We have had no feedback from the buyers that there is a problem,” Mr Daws said.
“Everything that was done with the cattle was done 100pc correctly, we have complied with all their requirements, so we can’t really get to the bottom of it.
“To me it is just a storm in a tea cup at this stage.”
Egypt has been one of the main sources of optimism for Australia’s live export trade in recent times, with orders for Australian cattle increasing on the back of a significant shortage of beef in the market of 90 million people.
Extensive cattle culling due to a widescale Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak in the country and protocol issues that have caused live cattle shipments from other suppliers, including Brazil, to be rejected have worked to increase demand in recent months for Australian cattle.
Egyptian consumers are also said to have a strong preference for Australian beef compared to other sources because of its clean and disease-free status.
The market has also become increasingly important to Australia this year because it provides a growing and viable alternative for the type of northern bos Indicus cattle that Indonesia has been reducing demand for as it strives to achieve self-sufficiency with its own herd.
Egyptian prices have also been rising as the beef shortage worsens.
The freeze on the slaughter of the consignment of Australian cattle is made all the more curious by the fact that a team of eight Egyptian inspectors examined and approved the consignment of cattle in Australia before it departed to Egypt in early July.
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