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Ostrich Market On The Run

Lennox Head, Australia, June 17th/Medianet International- AsiaNet/

The Chairman of Australia's largest ostrich farming complex, Afro Ostrich Farms Limited, Mr Peter Webb, said today that it was no secret that the ostrich market, in stock exchange terminology, had been somewhat "bearish" for the past two years but the "bulls" were now starting to run.

Mr Webb said evidence of the emerging "bullish" ostrich market, was a significant increase in bird sales in the last two months. He said the increase in ostrich investment sales which was set to continue, had been largely brought about by a substantial growth in product demand, both in Australia and overseas, particularly in Europe, the Middle East and South East Asia. Large interest had also been evident in South America, mainly, Argentina and Brazil.

Mr Webb said the main impetus for demand in ostrich products, revolved around meat and leather, but there was a growing interest in other products such as feathers, oil and hand-painted decorated eggs. There was also an increasing interest in research to investigate and explore the potential medicinal and therapeutic properties of the vast array of ostrich products.

Afro Ostrich Farms anticipates approaching the stage where it can supply a minimum quantity of 1.5 million kilos of meat per year and in excess of 45,000 skins, which would cover more than 12 rugby football fields in about 12 to 18 months. These figures would also rise dramatically in the next two to three years.

Mr Webb added, "that's a lot of leather, in any person's terms, particularly at an average price of around $20 per square foot".

He said Afro's western Queensland property, "Eversfield", which was spread over 52,000 acres, already had around 6,000 breeding ostriches and with the breeding season from August to March fast approaching, Afro was expecting a huge number of chicks to be hatched in that period. Good birds could lay anywhere between 40 to 100 eggs per season.

Mr Webb said many overseas supermarkets and other retail outlets were now stocking ostrich meat chilled and in cryovac which gave it a fresh shelf-life of around two to three months. He added that there was also a growing number of retail stores, as well as restaurants, selling ostrich meat in Australia and mass sales through supermarkets were not far away.

Mr Webb said ostrich meat looked and tasted very similar to beef but had less than two percent fat, hence its health and nutritional values were extremely high. This was largely responsible for fuelling the meat market and with Afro on the threshold of becoming a major world supplier, the future was extremely optimistic. He said there was also a strong market for ostrich-based small goods, such as sausages, a variety of smoked goods, wursts and jerky which is a dried meat product similar to biltong.

Mr Webb said the astute investors who had "hung in" through the down period and those who came into the industry within the next 12 Months would reap substantial profits with an already strong and fast growing demand for all types of ostrich products. He qualified this by saying with the current and expected demand for ostrich products, ostrich prices from an investment point of view were set to climb rapidly. Australian news reports recently revealed that many Europeans would prefer ostrich meat to beef.

He said ostrich leather goods with their distinctive quill pattern were highly sought after and he said ostrich leather invariably carried designer labels. The leather was dyed into many colours and the product range was as wide as the imagination with just some being, shoes, coats, belts, handbags,brief cases, wallets, purses and even leather upholstery for furniture and motor vehicles. Eighty percent of the leather market is in Japan and ostrich leather handbags are on the "must have" list for many Japanese women.

Although there is already a fully accredited ostrich abattoir in Australia, Afro has plans to have its own export rated abattoir, which would process the entire bird for both domestic and overseas sales, in the next 18 months.

The company's western Queensland farming complex has several hundred specifically designed ostrich pens, feed silos, incubators, hatchery area,nursery, an extensive water reticulation system on the property, improved pastures, an airstrip, accommodation facilities and a permanent farm staff of 26.

Afro's head office is at Burleigh heads on the Queensland Gold Coast and prospective investors can fly from the nearby Coolangatta Airport, direct to the farm to inspect the operation.

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