Kuwait says it will not take boxed meat in place of live export

Sheep Central, September 15, 2023

KUWAIT has continued its criticism of the Federal Government’s phase out of live sheep exports saying it will seek live animals from other countries rather than take more boxed meat from Australia.

According to the Australian Financial Review the Middle Eastern country’s commerce and industry minister, Mohammad Othman Al Aiban, recently wrote to Australia’s Federal agriculture minister Murray Watt urging him to dump the policy.

Agriculture Minister Murray Watt

The pair reportedly had a virtual meeting about Australia filling the live export void with chilled meat, to which Mr Al Aiban labelled unrealistic and said the country was at capacity with chilled sheep meat.

Kuwait has long been critical of the Government’s planned live export phase out and stressed that it will put a strain on the relationship between the two countries.


Minister Watt has responded to the criticisms by saying that “commercial decisions are a matter for businesses.”

“The Albanese Government has been clear the end date for live sheep exports by sea will not occur during this term of parliament,” he said in a statement.

“We will await the report from the independent panel before making any decisions about how best to deliver a considered and orderly transition.

“The Government will continue to work with industry to develop growth opportunities, including an expansion of onshore processing, which has seen sheep meat exports increase in real terms by around 200 per cent since 2003.”

Replacing live animals comes from a position of arrogance

The Australian industry criticised the approach the government is taking with countries like Kuwait. Australian Live Exporters’ Council chief executive officer Mark Harvey-Sutton said it was arrogant to suggest that Australia could replace live sheep with boxed meat.

Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council CEO Mark Harvey-Sutton

“Just like any other ag commodity, we service the demands of the customer, and it is very clear that they want livestock,” Mr Harvey-Sutton said.

“Essentially, what we are doing is dictating their consumer preferences to them, which is not our role. It is very important the Australian Government listens to this very acutely because Kuwait is a long-time friend of Australia and they have clearly indicated their disappointment with what is going on.”

Mr Harvey-Sutton said while the Middle East was already a large purchaser of sheep meat, they needed the live animals.

“There is a reason they take both and that is so they can provide food security and meet their consumer preferences,” he said.

“I think it lets down ‘team Australia’ if we start taking an approach that we are going to tell our customers what they should want rather than providing them what they do want.”











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  1. Simon Gatenby, September 18, 2023

    Can all the anti live export supporters please put together a list of your own responsible members for each region of the country. So when sheep need to be put down due to having no or negative value — ie they cost more to get to market than they are worth — which is happening now, the farmers and farm staff don’t have to do it. They can call on the local experts to have it done for them promptly and free of charge, while reminding each and every one of them how important it is to put down and bury these worthless animals that have previously been sold to feed other countries people, but now can’t be, in the name of better animal welfare outcomes.
    This is just insane. Reopen the trade asap or provide decent compensation to exit the industry like the government did when it deregulated the dairy industry in the year 2000.

  2. Ted Watkins, September 17, 2023

    There’s been a complete phase out of live sheep exports out of the eastern states, whilst appeasing welfare groups — ie taxpayer funded radical sensationalist fringe elements — that have selectively edited isolated incidents and managed to convince the urbanised ill-informed that the trade is inhumane. The facts are there is more attrition on farm overwhelmingly through natural causes than what is reported on the heavily regulated live export industry. So currently when the domestic processing industry is overwhelmed, mutton is basically worthless with the absence of an extra outlet for sheep. Well done feckless government.

  3. Tom Casey, September 16, 2023

    Labor’s city-centric nay sayers.

  4. Peter DeGaris, September 15, 2023

    As I have had a career long involvement and associated involvement with the live export industry, I find this Federal Government’s promise not only wrong, but a slap in the face for the industry. Over the years, the advances in animal welfare in the trade have been nothing short of remarkable. The High Court judgment in regards to the live cattle export ban by the the Labor Government showed that knee jerk reactions to a minority for political gain proved not only dangerous politically, but expensive for the economy and embarrassing for our government. It showed the international community that we care little for the food security of our international neighbours. As a side comment, I note that many of those awarded compensation have still not been paid. Once again, a reflection that should shame our elected government. The current downturn in mutton prices can be partially attributed to the impending sheep trade ban, as many WA sheep farmers are liquidating their flocks to favour cropping, causing a glut of sheep at abattoirs.
    Enough said, but obviously commercial sense combined with reality is lacking with this government.
    Peter DeGaris, livestock agent and farmer

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