Coronavirus hits Australian meat exporter

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Australia’s largest meat-processing cooperative has been caught up in the coronavirus outbreak in China.

The Northern Cooperative Meat Company (NCMC) in Casino in northern New South Wales has product stuck on the docks in China waiting for Chinese government and business employees to go back to work.

The Chinese Government has ordered workers to stay at home and shut ports as part of a range of measures to control the spread of the virus, and it’s affecting a range of Australian industries.

Brett Hosking from the Grain Growers lobby group said the outbreak “posed a real challenge for agriculture” as permits were not being issued or vessels unloaded and some manufacturing plants were being affected.

“If not shutdowns, we’re seeing slow downs,” Mr Hosking said.

“Vessels that have already sailed, loaded with fresh Australian, healthy agricultural products are not able to be unloaded or processed as timely as possible.”

NCMC chief executive officer Simon Stahl said there was likely to be a backlog of products when the ports reopened on Sunday.

The meat processor sends its product to half a dozen of the major ports in China, including Shanghai, Ningbo, Shenzen, Quingdao, Dalian and Guangzhou.

Mr Stahl said once the ports opened, there might be other restrictions on the movement of product if areas inland were in lockdown.

“It’s going to be problematic of how much product can then actually go into market and into warehouses within these cities,” he said.

 

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