Western Australia could soon be exporting millions of dollars of high quality grainfed beef to South East Asia if a new feedlotting trial begun this month is successful.
Agriculture Minister Ernie Bridge said the market potential for high quality grainfed beef was recognised last year by the Department of Agriculture and the Angus and Murray Grey breed societies, which jointly instigated a detailed assessment.
The result of that work was a major feedlotting trial now underway to produce high quality grainfed beef for test marketing in selected supermarkets, hotels and restaurants in Singapore and Malaysia.
Support from Clover Meats and Charla Downs feedlot had resulted in 350 Angus and Murray Grey steers being placed on feed at Waroona, where they would be grainfed for around 90 days to produce carcasses of between 250 and 300 kilograms, before being slaughtered at Clover Meats Waroona abattoir.
The beef from the steers would then be test marketed in early April through a supermarket chain in Singapore and top international hotels and restaurants in Malaysia.
Mr Bridge said investigations last year by the Department of Agriculture's adviser in beef marketing, Mr Alan Peggs, and Angus and Murray Grey Marketing and Research technical consultant, Mr Don Nicol, had indicated significant market potential for quality grainfed beef.
This had led to major feedlotters and beef exporters being approached about feedlotting cattle for 12 months of the year to supply high quality grainfed beef on a year round basis to markets in South East Asia.
All had been enthusiastic, and in particular Mr John Payne, export manager Asia for Clover Meats, indicated his company would assist in test marketing, while John and Len Snell of Charla Downs feedlot at Waroona indicated they would assist in feedlotting.
That support had enabled the project to be further developed by the Department, with the industry trial formally commencing this month.
"Preliminary projections suggest that if the test marketing is successful, the demand for Western Australian high quality grainfed beef in South East Asia could rise to 20,000 head by 1995 and generate an extra $10 million in beef exports," Mr Bridge said.
As part of the marketing plan, it was intended that the beef would be marketed as a branded product to enhance its recognition by consumers in supermarkets and restaurants.
Mr Bridge praised the role of the Department of Agriculture in the project and the willingness of the Angus and Murray Grey breed societies, Charla Downs and Clover Meats to support it so wholeheartedly.
"What began as an idea has been transformed into a working trial after industry threw its support behind the Department and the Ministerial Export Marketing Unit, which funded the initial investigation into market potential," he said.
"I have every confidence that we are now seeing the start of an important new export industry for Western Australia."