PORT of Townsville has reported its first shipment of frozen beef in more than a decade.

A recent shipment from Townsville is part of new trial by Mackay abattoir, Thomas Borthwick & Sons which processes around 2,400 head of cattle a week mainly for the Chinese and Japanese markets.

Borthwick’s general manager Jason Delaney said the company exported about 30 containers a week and was keen to develop a Townsville option.

“Townsville would give us a lot more flexibility and the distance is closer so over all it’s going to give us a better turnaround,” he  said.

“Long term the potential is massive for us especially if we can get a rail service through to Townsville. There is also the potential for a saving in shipping costs on every container.

“If all goes well, we would hope to see another shipment from Townsville before Christmas, so while there’s plenty of opportunity it’s still a long road ahead.”

The frozen meat was loaded on board ANL vessel Bomar Spring bound for Singapore and Jakarta.

Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said the trial backed in the port’s solid trade result last financial year.

In 2018/19, trade at the port increased 4.7% with 7.68m tonnes of freight going through the port’s gates, while 16 cruise ships visited the city bringing with them 20,000 visitors.

“It’s why the Palaszczuk government is investing in a $193m upgrade of the port channel, $40m Berth 4 upgrade and $48m intermodal facility,” Mr Stewart said.

“It’s great to see the port working with Queensland businesses to trial new exports and grow our city’s economic potential.”


Port of Townsville trade and business development manager, Maria James said attracting frozen beef for the export market was a key component in the port’s refrigerated container growth strategy.

“We are the closest port for Asian markets, which makes the trip quicker and ultimately cuts costs for Borthwick’s,” Ms James said. 

“This is a great initiative and follows the recent refrigerated melon trial from the Port of Townsville which has wide-ranging implications for the region’s growers by boosting the capacity and sustainability of north Queensland’s horticultural sector.”

Preliminary data was very positive but while awaiting the final results, the port is continuing to build confidence in sea freighted logistics and encouraging growth in refrigerated container exports.

“Hopefully chilled beef exports could follow on from frozen but again we’re moving forward with cautious optimism,” Ms James said.

“There is certainly enormous potential ahead for all rural producers. Increasing container export volumes across the sector will benefit the whole region economically.”