THE on-again, off-again cattle import trade into Turkey appears to be continuing as reports have emerged this week that the Turkish government has halted imports of live feeder cattle.
The live export company Wellard advised its shareholders that it had “received preliminary reports that the Turkish Government has imposed a halt on the import of live feeder cattle into Turkey from all countries”.
The announcement by Wellard saw its share price drop by almost seven per cent to 0.055.
While Wellard said it was not clear how long the halt would last, news reports indicated that it “may be temporary” as a “response to an accumulation of stock in Turkey” as well as seasonal conditions.
Wellard said its livestock vessel the MV Shearer had recently been actively chartered in the live cattle market between South America and Turkey.
“Wellard completed five voyages into Turkey in the 2018 calendar year from May-December,” a statement said.
“At this point, given the changing nature of the situation, it’s not possible to predict the exact impact, if any, on the company’s 2019 calendar year shipping schedule.
“Wellard will continue to monitor the situation.”
Wellard said while it was not an ideal situation the timing was good as the MV Shearer was scheduled for a planned dry dock in January to undergo maintenance and servicing.
Due to the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System, which Australian exporters and their international clients adhere to, Australia’s market share in the region has dropped over the years.
This has seen Turkey’s imports of slaughter, breeder and feeder cattle increase from its main markets of South America and Europe.
Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) said that in 2017 “cattle exports to Turkey totalled 11,253 head (to the end of October) – the first recorded shipment of cattle to Turkey for the calendar year”.
That was made by Livestock Shipping Services (LSS) out of Fremantle to the ports of Mersin (southern Turkey) and Tekirdag (northern Turkey) – which was accompanied by 59,640 sheep.
LSS backed that up with a shipment in November 2017 from the ports of Adelaide and Fremantle carrying 9538 cattle and 60,360 sheep.
MLA said that the Turkish government was aiming to import an estimated 700,000 head of cattle in 2017 in order to control beef prices in the country.
Most were sourced from South America and Europe.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Turkey imported 460,000 head of cattle in 2016 and about 700,000 in 2017.
MLA reports show that in the past 12 months to November, Australian exporters sent more than 19,000 head of feeder cattle to the country.
LSS sent 8148 cattle and 72,940 sheep to Tekirdag in February and a further 8104 cattle and 73,836 sheep in April 2018.
In May, a further 3008 head of feeder cattle and 68,039 sheep were sent from Fremantle.
LSS livestock manager Harold Sealy said after the Awassi Express incident and the flow-on effects that occurred last year, as well as the actions of United States president Donald Trump placing trade sanctions on Turkey, decimating its currency, there hadn’t been many exports to Turkey.
He said to see any market close was not good but Turkey was a nation that changed its policy often and he hoped that it would open again soon.
He said LSS would not be affected by the halt in feeder cattle imports.