Industry trade

Australian meat processor resumes trade with China after seven-day ban

An Australian meat factory has resumed trade with China after a seven-day temporary export suspension late last month.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Environment confirmed that a one-week ban had been imposed and said the company had resumed “exporting products to China without significant impact on trade”.

Meat industry analyst and trader Simon Quilty said the suspension was applied to the sheep processing facility due to COVID-related concerns.

“When they arrived in China, they had tested, supposedly, a positive [COVID result] on frozen meat packaging,” he said.

Mr Quilty said China had applied the same suspension to slaughterhouses around the world in similar circumstances.

“In this case, China was consistent with delisting for a week only plants that tested on incoming packaging,” he said.

“The [Australian] the plant was delisted on March 29 – so seven days – so after the first week of April it was back up and running…just that would have been a very minor disruption, if any.”

Mr Quilty said the suspension would not have caused much disruption to the business.(ABC Wodonga: Ashlee Charlton)

Mr Quilty said China had a different approach to delisting slaughterhouses where COVID infections among staff had been reported, with many of those slaughterhouses, including several in Australia, remaining suspended.

Mr Quilty said there were 158 meat factories from 26 countries that had been suspended from exporting meat to China due to COVID-related concerns over the past two years.

“During this two-year period, 65 have been relisted and continue to trade with China, leaving 93 factories at present simply unable to ship from various countries around the world to China due to COVID-related issues,” he said.

Mr Quilty said Brazil had the highest number of COVID-related delistings, with 24.

He said meat factories in Canada, Korea, Russia, the United States, Thailand and Australia – so far – had not been able to restore trade with China after a suspension.

In May 2020, four Australian meat factories including Kilcoy Pastoral Company, two JBS-owned factories near Toowoomba and Dinmore and the NSW Northern Cooperative Meat Company in Casino were suspended from selling meat in China.

Queensland slaughterhouses John Dee, Meramist and Australian Country Choice followed.

Two Victorian slaughterhouses – Australian Lamb Company in Colac and JBS Brooklyn – were also barred from selling meat in China when workers contracted COVID-19.

Earlier this year, Teys Australia’s Naracoorte slaughterhouse was also added to the list of suspensions for reasons related to COVID-19.

The suspensions are estimated to have cost the Australian red meat industry hundreds of millions of dollars.