107th Edition : October 2022.
· Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) has now been confirmed in Central Java, jumping 1000 kilometres eastwards from its last confirmed location in Jambi, Central Sumatra.
· Vaccinations for Foot & Mouth Disease (FMD) in Bali represent 10% of the national vaccination program.
Indonesia : Slaughter Steers AUD $5.31/kg live weight (Rp9,800 = $1AUD)
Slaughter cattle prices have remained steady during October at Rp52,000 per kg live weight as consumer demand continues to be weak. The AUD price above has risen as a result of the Aussie dollar weakening against the Rupiah.
Rates of up to Rp55,000 per kg are available but only for only those cattle with exception carcase yields.
Retail meat prices remain firm with Pasar Modern wet market in BSD maintaining Rp165,000 per kg for fresh knuckle while Super Indo was offering discounted knuckle for Rp159,500 per kg. In the photo below, Lotte Mart, another supermarket in BSD city was selling knuckle for Rp212,800 per kg.
Indian Buffalo Meat (IBM) prices at the local BSD supermarket remain the same as last month at Rp109,900 per kg.
Indonesians like their beef LEAN and that’s what they get.
During the peak of the emergency slaughter of FMD infected and suspect animals, volumes of beef in excess of daily demand were frozen by the authorities. Now that the mass infection and slaughter phase has been replaced by mass vaccination, some of this frozen beef is being released to the retail market. Some market observers suggest that these additional volumes are contributing to the sluggish demand for fresh beef.
This table from MLA shows local cattle live weight prices in Rupiah across Indonesia.
The national vaccination numbers continue to rise with the totals of the various animal categories listed below. These figures were taken from the government web site on the 31st of October.
National FMD vaccination data as at 31st October 2022.
Bali continues to lead the regions in the race to vaccinate their herds. The total cattle vaccination figure of close to 400,000 head is about 10% of the national figure. The total number of cattle in Bali is in some doubt but 400k should be the majority of the herd so second round vaccinations are probably already under way. Unfortunately, the statistics provided on the government web site don’t separate first and second vaccinations with only a total figure provided for each species. This high level of vaccine coverage certainly reduces the risk of transmission through tourists carrying the virus home by a significant margin. A full second round will hopefully push the risk of tourist transmission back to near pre-introduction levels.
Pig vaccinations in Bali represent 92% of all pigs vaccinated in Indonesia. This might represent one third or one half of all pigs in Bali so once again this good progress is an essential part of the FMD control program as infected pigs are potent multipliers of the virus.
Anyone can follow the progress of the vaccination program on the government website at https://siagapmk.crisis-center.id/ When reading these figures I expect the vaccine numbers are accurate while the data on FMD cases is definitely not. It is government policy that there are no more cases of FMD in Bali and a number of other regions. Government animal health services therefore do not report any new cases in order to comply with the policy. This is a policy for public/international perception and has no bearing on the facts. The aim in the case of Bali is to present Indonesia in the best possible light during the G20 meetings in Bali and deflect any suggestions that it is unwise for tourists to visit the island.
Bali vaccination data at the end of October 2022.
As the threat of FMD is slowly reducing, the situation regarding LSD is quickly becoming much more alarming. While the numbers on the map below are incorrect, the fact that LSD has been positively identified in Central Java is very real and very significant. In the last month, LSD has moved from its previous most easterly location of Jambi in Sumatra to the centre of Java, a distance of over 1,000 km. The distance from Semarang to Kupang in West Timor is only another 2,000km. While there are lots of theories about how the LSD virus jumped over southern Sumatra and West Java, the fact remains that it is now dramatically closer to Timor where it will be in a position to potentially threaten northern Australia. Note the map below showing Darwin and the northern Top End in the lower right-hand corner.
The numbers on this map are incorrect but the fact that LSD has arrived in Central Java is not. The name of Semarang, a major city in Central Java is partly hidden under the green dot.
See below a video of one of the animals infected with LSD in Semarang. I am advised that the video was taken in mid-October and that the disease has been confirmed by laboratory testing. The animal shown appears quite bright and has a good appetite. This suggests that it has fully recovered from the initial fever stage so infection may well have taken place in the first week of October if not earlier. There are some unconfirmed reports that it could have been in Central Java since August! The south-west monsoon is underway with rain almost every day in Bali. The associated monsoonal winds will assist insects to move from west to east so it may not be long before the insects carrying the virus arrive in Bali. Last week I received unconfirmed reports of LSD in Madura Island in East Java.
After a very long search I have finally located a photo of a young Bali bull with clinical LSD. Although it might not look seriously ill, its skin is certainly a mess and will need to be protected from further insect attack and secondary bacterial infection. The second photo of a similar young Bali bull was taken near my house in Bali this week. I won’t need my veterinary degree to know when this virus arrives in Bali and infects the local cattle.
Photo of a young Bali bull in Sumatra infected with LSD. Bali cattle are present all over Indonesia.
A similar Bali bull quite close to my house. I visit this group regularly to check in their health.
The Australian government has supported the LSD control program with the supply of 435,000 doses of LSD vaccine. 26,500 of these have been distributed to Central Java since the identification of these new cases. For reasons that remain unclear, the Indonesian government still require the feedlot industry to go through an extremely long and complicated bureaucratic process in order for them to be allowed to purchase their own vaccine, including LSD vaccine. This process only serves to increase the risk that imported animals will be exposed to LSD before the importers gain permission to purchase their own vaccine products.
Darwin feeder steer prices have shot up again as they usually do in the northern Australian wet season although the recent price of AUD$5.25 for feeders is still a little short of the record of $5.53 from March of this year. This will be a bitter pill for importers with the only sweetener being the weakness of the AUD$ against the Rupiah which certainly helps to take the edge of these extreme rates.
The religious festival of Ramadan will take place from 22nd of March to the 21st of April followed by the celebration of Lebaran on the 22nd of April. The week long Lebaran holiday is equivalent to the Christmas holiday period for Christians. The final week of Ramadan and the Lebaran holiday period is traditionally the annual peak period for consumption of beef (and other favoured food items). Australian feeders purchased in Darwin this week will contribute to supplies of beef for these festivals as the fattened cattle emerge from the feedlots after the roughly 1 month delivery time and the 4-5 month fattening period.
Darwin port dispatched 9 vessels to 3 Indonesian destination ports carrying a total of 31,011 feeders for the full month as importers make the most of the reduced AUD, full access to FMD vaccines to protect feeders on arrival and begin to stock up for Ramadan and Lebaran next March. During September 2022 1,100 feeder buffalo were exported from Darwin to Indonesia.
Vietnam : Slaughter Steers AUD $5.55 / kg (VND15,500 to $1AUD)
Slaughter cattle prices remained steady during October with the AUD figure above rising due to the weaker Aussie $. The indicator rate for October is still Dong 86,000 per kg live weight.
The Vietnamese livestock and meat industries have had a very tough time over the last few years. As pork is Vietnam’s most popular meat, their market was devastated by the introduction of African Swine Fever (ASF) in February 2019 and has still not fully recovered as there is no vaccine for this disease with new cases still being reported this month (see FAO map below). Then LSD hit in October 2020 causing substantial losses before vaccine could be imported and widely distributed. I am told that LSD is now largely under control throughout the county thanks to the widespread use of the effective live-virus vaccine. Also, just like the rest of the world, Vietnam was hammered by Covid 19 at the beginning of 2020 which resulted in severe restrictions to the activities of their population and economy generally as well as halting the majority of exports across the northern border into China. This included meat products among many others and as far as I am aware these restrictions are still strongly enforced. If all this wasn’t enough, the price of Australian slaughter cattle went through the roof towards the end of 2021 rising to the point where shipments from northern Australia slowed to a mere trickle. The single shipment of slaughter bulls from Brazil became a disaster with their BSE notification delivered mid-voyage resulting in a very extended and very expensive post arrival quarantine period. Vietnam has also reported a number of outbreaks of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1. FMD is endemic in all of continental Southeast Asia including Vietnam but is generally well under control through regular vaccination programs.
Official government statistics indicate that the nation cattle herd is 6.4 million head, an increase of 3.4% on last year while national beef production was 348,900 tons an annual increase of 3.8%.
As Vietnam imports primarily fat cattle for slaughter shortly after arrival there is negligible opportunity for value adding which is a huge bonus in Indonesia. The result is that importers are trapped between a domestic retail market which refuses to pay more (Vietnamese consumers already pay the highest price for beef of any country in SE Asia) and an Australian cattle market that shows little sign of declining cattle prices. At the moment it seems to me that the only hope for importers is a major collapse in the AUD$ against the Vietnamese Dong. Considering the steady decline in the Chinese economy, this event could well become reality during 2023.
FAO ASF map updated on 13th of October 2022.
China : Slaughter Cattle AUD $7.95 / kg live weight (RMB 4.57 = 1AUD$)
Slaughter cattle prices have risen once again during October with close to a 10% increase in the average price to Yuan 36.35 per kg live weight which translates with a weaker AUD$ to only 5 cents short of $8 per kg. Fresh beef prices have also edged up a little during the month although supermarket beef, pork and chicken prices were largely unchanged.
Last month I reported on the MOU between China and Laos agreeing to cooperate with a project to export live cattle across the border from Laos to China where animals would be slaughtered at the Chinese abattoir located at Mohan only about 10 km from Boten.
The distance from the Lao border crossing town of Boten to the Mohan abattoir in China is less than 10 km.
At the moment, the agreement between China and Lao states that only cattle originating from Lao are eligible to cross the border without attracting heavy import duties. Even with no import duties, the current high price of Australian cattle appears to make this option unviable. For example, using an estimated AUD$4.50 per kg live for fat ox in Townville suggests a price landed at the port of Vinh, central Vietnam of about AUD$5.50 per kg. A wild guess of trucking these cattle, west through Vietnam, across the border then north through Laos to the quarantine station near Boten, about 900km, could be another AUD$50 cents per kg. Quarantine, health protocols, etc. etc. at the Boten border holding depot might be a further AUD50cents per kg for a very rough total of AUD$6.50 per kg live weight delivered to Mohan. The nearest large Chinese city to Mohan is Kunming which is about 500km by road. Prices in Shanghai and Beijing are only $7.95 so the potential margins appear uncomfortably thin.
Philippines : Slaughter Cattle AUD $3.41 / kg (Peso 37.5 to AUD$1)
No change in slaughter cattle rates during October but retail beef prices have edged up by almost 5% since September. ASF continues to cause serious disruption to the pig industry which produces the most popular meat product for Filipinos.
Thailand : Slaughter Steers AUD $4.13 / kg (Baht 24.2 to $1AUD)
No change in live cattle prices during October with the indicator rate remaining at THB100 per kg live weight. Feedlot demand continues to be weak although the attractiveness of cheap feeders from Myanmar means cross border imports are slowly rising as some feedlots take a risk with a modest increase in their inventories.
“Honest” John Catchlove.
Northern Australia seems to have more than its fair share of amazing characters. Honest John Catchlove, known to everyone as “Honest” is one of the most memorable I have met during my 43 years in the north. Honest is retired now but was primarily a first class outback truck driver carting cattle and a range of other freight all over northern Australia. He was also a remarkable entrepreneur, operating a Ladies dress shop and Café called “Honest John’s” for many years in the heart of the remote port town of Wyndham in the East Kimberley district of Western Australia. One of his most inspired sales campaigns was when he personally delivered large quantities of cold beer, burgers and other essential items to groups of very sweaty and very appreciative soldiers located in dusty fox-holes scattered all around the Wyndham district during a huge military war games exercise. Honest also managed the Wyndham live cattle export yards for many years. He always has a funny story to tell and invariably delivers it with one cocked, bushy eyebrow and a mischievous twinkle in his eye.
His home is a corrugated iron shed on the sun-baked salt flats about 500 metres from the Wyndham wharf, one of the hottest places on earth. I stayed there on many occasions when I was delivering health protocol services at the Wyndham export yards. I named it the “Port Hole”.
6 foot 4”Honest John Catchlove at his home, “The Port Hole” at the port of Wyndham, Western Australia. Photo from the Western Australian State Library. No windows or any other such unnecessary frills.
While Honest is not particular about his accommodation arrangements he most certainly is about his personal motor vehicle. In September 2020, myself and a fellow stockman disembarked from a cattle ship in the port of Wyndham and needed transport to Kununurra (about 110km) to complete our Covid 19 quarantine. Honest kindly drove us to our Kununurra hotel in his brand new V8 Mustang GT Fastback.
These figures are converted to AUD$ from their respective currencies which are changing every day so the actual prices here are corrupted slightly by constant foreign exchange fluctuations. The AUD$ figures presented below should be regarded as reliable trends rather than exact individual prices. Where possible the meat cut used for pricing in the wet and supermarket is Knuckle / Round.