Australia's beef industry
Australia is one of the world's most efficient producers of cattle and the world's largest exporter of beef. The off-farm meat value of Australia's beef industry is $11.6 billion. The gross value of Australian cattle and calf production was estimated at $7.9 billion.
- Australia's national cattle herd stands at 28.5 million head (*).
- 79,322 properties with cattle (*).
- 12.8 million beef cows and heifers (*).
- The beef industry accounts for 58% of all farms with agricultural activity (*).
- The red meat industry employs approximately 200,000 workers across farm, processing and retail.
- Australia produced around 2.1 million tonnes of beef and veal in 2011-12 (**).
- 2.5 million grainfed cattle were marketed in 2011-12 (34% of all adult cattle slaughtered).
- The value of Australian cattle and calf production (including live export) is approximately $7.9 billion (ABARE 2011-12).
- Cattle contributed 16% of the total farm value of $48.7 billion in 2011-12.
- The direct contribution of beef and live cattle to gross domestic product is approximately 1%.
- Queensland is the biggest producer of beef and veal.
- Australia has 3% of the world cattle inventory and is the world's sixth largest beef producer.
- Australia produce's 4% of the world's beef supply and is the second largest beef exporter.
- Domestic expenditure on beef was estimated at $6.2 billion in 2011-12 (MLA estimate)
- Australians ate around 31.4kg per person in 2011-12 (MLA estimate).
- Around 96% of Australian fresh meat buyers purchased beef in 2011-12 (AC Nielsen Homescan).
- In 2011-12 Australia exported 66% of its total beef and veal production more than 100 countries (***).
- The value of total beef and veal exports in 2011-12 was $4.69 billion (**).
- The value of Australia's live cattle exports in 2011-12 was $650 million (**).
- The beef industry contributes 12% to total Australian farm exports.
- Australia's largest export market is Japan, followed by the US and South Korea (***).
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Northern and southern cattle industries
Northern and southern beef production enterprises have been strong performers among broadacre agricultural enterprises in recent years.
Read the full northern beef situation analysis report
Read the full southern beef situation analysis report
Cattle numbers by natural resource management region
View the cattle distribution map
All figures based on MLA/DAFF/ABS/ABARE 2011-12 unless otherwise stated.
* - ABS Agricultural commodities - figures for 30 June 2011
** - latest available ABS data - figures for fiscal year 2011-12
*** - latest available DAFF data - figures for fiscal year 2011-12
Per capita consumption figures from MLA cattle industry projections 2012