By Carl Curtain
Published on 2 May 2016, on abc.net.au
A Vietnam feedlot operator, who only began importing Australian cattle in the last three years, says his local market is over-supplied.
With 321,727 slaughter and feeder cattle imported by Vietnam from Australia in 2015, domestic on-sale prices for feedlotters have fallen considerably.
Export shipments to Vietnam have slowed this year as a result, with around 20,000 sent so far.
Live export prices also rose to around $3 per kilogram for the Vietnamese buyers, a significant increase in a short time.
Ket Phat Thinh (KPT) is now one of Vietnam’s largest importers of cattle, having only begun operations in 2012.
Operating director Hoa Xuan Vo said with so many cattle in the supply chain, it was hurting the business.
“It’s more than what we need,” he said.
“This year, I think the number should be between 200-250,000 head.
“That is the number that I think should be alright for the market for 2016, and what we should be looking at.”
Export cattle numbers to Vietnam began to rise dramatically in 2014, with Australian producers targeting the market for heavier stock.
Mr Hoa said his company had imported close to 300,000 head alone in the last three years, and feeding the stock had become vital to return a profit.
“When we first started we were [buying cattle] around $2.10 [per kilogram] and now it’s around $3 already,” he said.
“At the beginning we could make some money on trading, so I just import the cattle and sell to the slaughterhouse to make some profit.
“But now I cannot do that anymore.
“I have to make money on feeding and I would be losing money just to import and sell immediately.”
CCTV cameras installed in Vietnamese beef facilities
The live cattle export industry has now installed CCTV cameras in all facilities in Vietnam handling Australian stock.
The supply chain Mr Hoa is part of uses a locally monitored system, different to the real-time service in Jakarta used be three export companies.
Mr Hoa said the rollout of the monitoring had been smooth, however the ongoing maintenance could prove problematic.
“The maintenance costs for CCTV is very high and a lot of fixing always need to happen,” he said.
“That’s the only problem that we have.
“Some places are not indoor abattoirs, and you’ve got the rain and the wind.”