Miner Andrew Forrest plans to venture outside the mining industry by looking into the possibility of exporting beef to China. He said on Thursday that he would place in his luggage sample parcels of steak for his next trip to China.
The foray is in response to queries the iron ore billionaire often gets when in China where to get high quality reliable beef. Forrest, owner of Fortescue Metals (ASX: FMG) which is the third largest iron ore company in Australia, also visited Chinese supermarkets and found limited Australian beef available.
Forrest said he would buy a meat processing company to further boost export of beef to China, the third-largest exporter of Australian beef. He had already bough Western Australia's only licensed beef exporter to China as part of his plan.
He foresees Australia boosting its beef production by 50 per cent if it could secure a supply position in China which is expected to double its beef imports by 2018 due to change in diet caused by rising income.
In April, Forrest met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to discuss a bilateral agricultural partnership. He is also talking with Australian Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce to join the partnership.
In 2013, Australia exported 1.1 million metric tonnes of beef to China worth $12.3 billion. China boosted its share of meat consumption in 2013 to 9.2 per cent from 6.8 per cent, according to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
Also on Thursday, the sheep meat industry announced the resumption of live animal trade with Iran which used to be Australia's largest live animal export market until the Shah's revolution over 40 years ago which led to a halt of the trade.
With the resumption, the industry hopes to export over 1 million live animals to Iran annually.