SYDNEY, Feb. 6 (Xinhua) -- The first shipment of live Australian beef cattle to China has left Australian shores after nearly ten years in the making.
A shipment of 1,200, mainly Angus cattle, left Portland in Victoria's far west bound for Shandong Province in eastern China.
The cattle were shipped by real estate developer-turned agricultural investor Shanghai CRED which teamed up with Gina Rinehart, Australia's richest woman, in 2016 to buy the Kidman cattle empire.
The shipment suggests that live cattle exports to China will be a major focus of Kidman under its new owners.
Mark Allison, CEO of rural conglomerate Elders which Shanghai CRED has invested in heavily, said the live exports to China would be great for the industry in Australia.
"The opening of feeder and slaughter markets will drive competition and demand for Australian cattle, creating new opportunities for exporters and producers alike," Allison told News Limited on Monday.
Mark Bennett, head of agribusiness for the Australia New Zealand (ANZ) bank, said that during a visit to China late in 2016 he saw the demand for Australian beef was continuing to build.
Bennett said the live exports could see the Australian beef industry grow from a 7-billion-U.S. dollar business annually to a 12-billion-U.S. dollar industry.
He said that the inland city of Chongqing alone was seeking up to 500,000 heads of cattle a year.
Shanghai CRED will reportedly lose money on the first shipment but the company was willing to take the loss in order to kick-start the trade as beef prices in Australia are forecast to fall over the coming months.