MORE than 180,000 head of cattle passed through the Port of Townsville last financial year, with the first shipment of cattle to China contributing to the solid result.
Live cattle exports were tallied at 182,262 head, which was 4 per cent lower than in 2016/17, the Port of Townsville annual report for 2017/18 shows.
Indonesia and Vietnam accounted for 98 per cent of the export demand, with 1600 head sent to China in the first shipment of live cattle to the country from Northern Australia leaving in January.
The report stated that the slight decrease in numbers on the year prior was due to ongoing supply constraints and high Australian cattle prices over that period.
Elders live export Queensland manager and Townsville agent Tom Kennedy said he expected higher numbers would move through the Townsville Port this financial year.
Mr Kennedy said it had already been a solid start to this financial year and he expected numbers in the six months until January 2019 would exceed those in the two six months preceding.
“What has contributed to the recent increase in the numbers has purely been based around the Indonesian trade,” Mr Kennedy said.
“Wellards have already done three Ocean Drover shipments of approximately 18,000 head each.
“At the same time LSS has been very competitive in the market, with constant shipments going out with about 6,000 head with three to four week brackets apart.”
Mr Kennedy said there was still a very strong presence of Vietnam trade out of Townsville.
“I would imagine to see in excess of 8000 head of slaughter cattle going out each month,” he said.
Mr Kennedy said he expected further shipments of cattle to China from Townsville in coming months.
He said the dry conditions across much for north-western Queensland had contributed to the numbers being sent for live export.
“There has been a large exit of cattle right across Australia this year, as to when we’re going to see the end of that we can’t be sure.
“But there has been a large turn off of cattle more recently in the last four or so months.”
Mr Kennedy said the trade would collapse without the yard contractors and transport operators, who made the industry tick.
The report stated that with a focus on revenue diversification and cost management, the port posted a solid net profit of $15.01 million for 2017-18.
The report shows that while the Port of Townsville remains the the largest exporter of zinc, copper, lead, sugar and fertiliser in the country, agricultural industries were also healthy contributors to future growth.
New agricultural trades made their way to markets including new refrigerated exports, which included the first shipments of mangoes to Hong Kong, South Korea and China.
The Port of Townsville Limited remains Australia’s largest sugar exporter with the ports of Townsville and Lucinda moving a combined tonnage of 1,635,111 of sugar last financial year.
Of that Townsville exported 1,060,098 tonnes that was grown predominately in the Burdekin area, while Lucinda exported 575,013 tonnes of product grown in the Herbert region.
Overall trade volumes remained steady against previous year at 7.3 million tonnes, while a historical record for container trade was set, with 75,827 TEUs handled, a 47 per cent increase which was largely powered by renewable energy imports for several major projects in the region.
Motor vehicle imports also hit a record high at 17,659 units, 20 per cent up on the year prior.
Port of Townsville CEO Ranee Crosby said several milestones were also achieved in upgrading the port for future prosperity.
“This year was a significant one for us, reaching historic milestones in a number of new sectors, completing the $40 million Berth 4 upgrade, and securing the green light for our $1.6 billion 30 year development plan to secure North Queensland’s future growth,” Ms Crosby said.
“The $193 million Channel Capacity Upgrade Project is now set to go and will be the largest infrastructure investment in our history.
“These infrastructure projects not only support local jobs, but importantly they strengthen the economic future of our ports and the regions that we serve for decades to come.
“The long-term outlook for trade is a story of growth, and our team are working hard to ensure we will be ready to handle the increased volumes.”