Monday, November 19, 2012

New Abattoir for the Kimberley - Second for North Australia

Now not one, but a second abbattoir in north Australia.  It is not really a surprise as a processing facility for cattle has been mooted in the Kimberley region for several years.  It now seems as if it is actually going to get built.

It would be an additional facility to the one proposed for near Darwin, and owned by AA Co, which has already commenced construction, or is just about to start.

This week apparently will see construction start on a $20 million abattoir in the Kimberley with 50 per cent of produce destined for the Asian market.  This is an interesting strategy, as it seems to imply that some product may go onto the Australian market - read north Australia - where all beef is currently imported from southern areas [except for a few small local facilities eg Gumbulanya in the NT supplying local aboriginal areas].

A joint venture between Yeeda Pastoral Company and Kimberley Pastoral Investments said that an agreement had been secured to supply free-range beef to Singapore.  Beef prices in Singapore are very high - around S$60 per kg for scotch fillet steak, which is roughly double Australian prices in equivalent $$.  And all is deep frozen - no chilled beef at all.  The bigger market is probably for cheaper cuts for asian meals, but maybe not necessarily ground beef.

Jack Burton of Yeeda Pastoral Company said the abattoir would be built between Broome and Derby and estimated that by 2014, 55,000 head of cattle would be processed at the site each year.  There is no indication whether it would operate seasonally or year round, but the latter is assumed.  The Darwin facility will be a year round operation, except for a brief maintenance period [4-6 weeks expected].

Burton said the new facility would help process heavier cattle which have been unsuitable for export since Indonesia introduced weight restrictions in 2010.  “This would never be for the replacement of live export, but for cattle that don’t suit live export,” Burton said.

The announcement has been supported from the local Kimberley pastoral industry as well as by the local and state government.  WA Agriculture Minister Terry Redman said he was pleased to see confidence in the industry.  "I’m looking forward to the day we cut the ribbon on that facility and see this become the sharp point for agriculture in the north," Redman said.

The facility is expected to be built by late 2013, which would be slightly ahead of the larger facility proposed for Darwin.

There has not been an abattoir functioning in the Kimberley since the Broome meatworks closed in 1994.

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