LIVE cattle exports to Egypt look promising following interest from importers looking to rebuild livestock numbers with Australian cattle.
Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) livestock services manager (Middle East and Africa) Nigel Brown said Egyptian importers were particularly interested in sourcing Australian cattle due to its disease-free status, which was important in Egypt.
Dr Brown said live cattle exports to Egypt were tentative.
MLA statistics showed 6961 head of cattle were sent to Egypt in May.
November statistics are unavailable, but MLA is aware of some part consignments sent during the month.
"There have been three part consignments over the last three months, with more due over the next few weeks before the end of the Hajj period," Dr Brown said.
Dr Brown said the strengthening Egyptian economy was creating increased interest in cattle imports.
He said Egypt had a shortage of livestock because it was processing its own animals faster than was sustainable and was keen to source animals from countries free of diseases such as foot and mouth and BSE.
Dr Brown said although importers wanted Australian cattle they were still price conscious.
He said prices paid for cattle were comparable to other markets such as the Middle East and Asia, but consignments at this stage were relatively small.
Dr Brown said there were still animal welfare concerns surrounding the slaughtering methods of cattle in Egypt.
He said MLA was working with local processors to introduce more humane methods of slaughter such as modifying abattoirs and using stun guns, but there was a large number of social problems in Egypt that made this process slow.
Dr Brown said sheep were also being exported to Egypt.
He said livestock travelled straight from WA to Egypt and were mostly bos indicus or bos indicus cross type cattle.
Dr Brown said Egyptian importers preferred the bos indicus cross cattle and were mainly interested in steers, but importing laws had changed to allow bulls into Egypt.