The Kingdom’s first shipment of live Australian cattle is due to arrive in port this morning, and the Brahman cows will be swiftly herded to the country’s first industrial abattoir in Preah Sihanoukville province.
The 2,766 heads of cattle - which left Brisbane, Australia, on June 12 – are set to arrive at 6am at Sihanoukville Autonomous Port and expected to reach the 11,000-square-metre SLN Meat Supply factory four hours later.
However, the cattle will not be immediately processed, according to company spokesman Im Vannarith. Instead, they will be given five days to acclimatise. Then they will be slaughtered, with the meat put in a freezer – though not frozen – and distributed to the local market.
Vannarith said that the slaughterhouse will get fresh meat to the market more quickly to keep up with growing demand.
“Australian beef has already been sold in the Cambodian market, but the imports are packaged and frozen and it takes about a month before being available,” he said.
“Now, people in Cambodia will able to taste fresh Australian beef that is 20 to 30 per cent cheaper than the current imported beef.” The company will slaughter 200 cows per day and the fresh meat will be distributed to established depots in 25 provinces.
According to Vannarith, for the second shipment, the plant will receive about 1,700 heads of cattle. He added that if everything goes according to plan, the company will import larger amounts for future orders in a bid to export to neighbouring countries.
Hor Sim Leang, SLN’s managing director, said that the company has already sunk $22 million into the Kingdom’s first modern abattoir with the majority of the investment going toward equipment.
“This is very exciting because this project took over three years to complete and was over six years in the making,” he said, adding that the first cattle shipment cost approximately $3.9 million.
Ashley James of Frontier International Northern Pty Ltd, the Australia-based export company that supplied the first shipment of cattle, said SLN’s slaughterhouse – though initially geared for domestic supply – was well positioned to capture the regional market.
“I think there is plenty of market potential, especially with China being so close and in Southeast Asia where a growing middle class is looking to get their hands on some protein,” he said.