Local agriculture firm SLN Meat Supplies will be the first Cambodian company to import live cattle from Australia after health protocols between the two countries were finalized earlier this month.
Hor Sim Leang, managing director of SLN in Preah Sihanouk province, said he will be importing 10,000 feeder and slaughter cattle following a deal made with Australian exporters two years ago—the time it took for SLN to build a slaughterhouse in line with Australian standards.
Mr. Leang said 30 percent of the imported cattle will be for the local market and the remainder exported to the rest of Asia, including China, Vietnam and South Korea.
“There is a big lack of fresh beef supplied to Cambodia and being exported from Cambodia to overseas markets,” he said. “Instead, frozen beef has been imported and supplied locally at a high price.”
Suon Sothoeun, deputy director of the Agriculture Ministry’s department of animal health, confirmed the health protocols had been agreed on by the two countries but could not give details of the agreement.
“A protocol document was sent to the Agriculture Ministry from the Embassy of Australia, and I know that Cambodia responded positively to its Australian counterpart.
“The protocol will give permission to import live cattle from Australia, but I don’t have the document,” Mr. Sothoeun said.
Sorya Ly, manager of Stonegrill steakhouse in Phnom Penh, said he hoped the import of cattle would drive down prices, which can be as much as $36 per kilogram of high-quality Black Angus imported from Australia.
“I think selling Australian meat locally will be very good. Cambodian beef is very tough,” he said.
Alison Penfold, chief executive of the Australian Livestock Exporters Council, told Australian public broadcaster ABC that although the Cambodian market is not large, the deal is still significant for Australian farmers.
“We’ve seen across Asia a 115 percent increase in live cattle exports over 2013 and 2014,” she said. “So adding Cambodia and hopefully in a short period of time Thailand, we will have a large and important area of huge potential.”