The ill-fated New Zealand dairy heifer transport ship lost at sea in a massive storm off the coast of Japan was chartered by one of the world's biggest exporters of breeding cattle, the Australian-based Australasian Global Exports.
The company is a regular supplier to the big Chinese dairy heifer market which has burgeoned in the past decade as supersized dairy farms have established to satisfy China's rising thirst for fresh milk.
AGE has a long history of contracting vessels to ship valuable beef and dairy breeding cattle to China, and also to Russia, the Middle East, and other Asian destinations.
Initially established in 2005, the company was, for about eight years, in partnership with national farm services company Landmark, trading as Landmark Global Exports.
Several of the AGE management team, including Melbourne-based managing director Sophie Wang, played a big role in developing Landmark's (now Nutrien Ag Solutions) live export business until the joint venture ended in about 2016.
AGE has facilitated the sale of close to 1 million cattle from Australia, NZ, Uruguay, Europe and the US in the past 15 years and is widely considered one of the most experienced operators in the cattle export business.
The Panamanian-flagged Gulf Livestock 1, which is now the focus of an international search in the East China Sea, departed from Napier on NZ's North Island on August 14 with more than 5800 cattle on board, destined for the Chinese port of Jingtang in Tangshan.
Industry experts said about 90 per cent of the AGE's activities focused on sourcing dairy heifers for the Chinese market mainly from NZ and Australia, but varying with seasonal availability, currency movements and farmgate milk prices.
The new generation of Chinese super dairies are housing up to 20,000 cows each.
"AGE doesn't get in the spotlight too much, but they've added a lot of competition and value to the dairy and Angus breeder market for more than a decade," one observer noted.
With dairy heifers landing in China carrying price tags of $4000-plus each, the company was also considered well attuned to the need for its carriers to take good care of its export orders.
AGE's promotional material also describes itself as having a highly experienced team and being "one of the safest exporters in the world".
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Aside from Ms Wang at the helm, the business is jointly run by co-owners Graeme Turner, Mark He and Eric Broad, who also have their own farming interests.
It has export depots properties in Victoria's Gippsland and Western District uses third part resisted premises in Western Australia, the Northern Territory, NZ, Uruguay , and the US, from where it also exports lucerne hay.
The company's dairy industry connections include a subsidiary farming operation, Australasian Global Dairies which owns six dairy farms in Victoria with capacity to milk up to 5000 cows.
The vessel chartered for the latest dairy heifer consignment was owned by the United Arab Emirates company Gulf Navigation which issued a statement expressing deep regret for the sad loss of the livestock on board and 41 crew.
"Our hearts go out to those on board and their families at this time," a Gulf Navigation spokesman said.
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The story Dairy exporter's success story hit hard by tragic cattle ship loss first appeared on Farm Online.