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COVID-19 market insights hub

MLA has created this hub containing market insights relating to COVID-19. It includes economic analysis and insights about consumers, the retail and foodservice sectors, our competitors and more.

Content in this hub is regularly updated and includes the following categories:


On the ground

In response to COVID-19, MLA presents On the ground, a new weekly podcast series providing the latest information from Australia’s key red meat markets.

Listen now>

Situation summary

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This regular update provides a summary of the main impacts of COVID-19 observed across global and domestic red meat markets. This latest summary is dated 26 June 2020. Read more>

Impacts on industry and MLA

The impact on MLA and the red meat industry
How has the coronavirus outbreak affected MLA programs and the wider red meat and livestock industry? Here, Managing Director Jason Strong outlines some of the initial impacts of COVID-19. Read more>

The impact on livestock and red meat markets
How has the coronavirus outbreak affected red meat markets and projections for Australian cattle? Here, MLA’s Market Intelligence Manager Scott Tolmie discusses the impacts. Read more>

Support for brand owners
MLA has introduced short-term additional financial support measures via the CoMarketing program to support brand owners during the difficult trading environment created by COVID-19. Read more>

The impact on MLA research, development and adoption
How has the coronavirus outbreak affected MLA’s research, development and adoption activities? Here, General Manager of Research, Development and Adoption, Mick Crowley, discusses the impacts and how MLA is responding to ensure projects remain supported and delivered. Read more>

Global COVID-19 update
Andrew Cox, MLA’s General Manager – International Markets, provides a global COVID-19 update including an overview of MLA’s global response strategy. Read more >

Economic analysis

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Global analysis

Red meat at risk of global slowdown
Sweeping downgrades to global growth forecasts have been made by various consultancy groups. So how may Australian red meat fare in these tumultuous times? Some lessons can be learnt from the impact of the 2008-2009 Global Financial Crisis (GFC) however the beast this time around is vastly different in terms scale, breadth and policy solutions. Read more>

Impact of an economic shutdown on red meat exports
The outlook for the world economy has continued to be revised lower in recent months, as the realities of COVID-19 have set in. In April, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) revised its forecast for global GDP growth in 2020 to a 3.0% contraction. Other pundits are even more pessimistic on the prospects for global growth in 2020. Read more >

Exchange rates

With nations around the globe reeling from the ongoing impact of COVID-19, this has caused some dramatic currency swings as economic recession threatens countries worldwide. Read more>

Competitor insights

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While Australia has had a steady start to the year for red meat exports, key competitors such as New Zealand, South America and India have certainly not been immune to supply disruptions. Additionally, the US is experiencing a range of supply chain challenges. Read more>

United States

COVID-19 putting US beef supply chains to the test
The US is both a major buyer and competitor of Australian beef. So, how is the disruption from COVID-19 throughout the US supply chain impacting Australian exports? Read more>

US beef prices under unprecedented pressure
As COVID-19 has forced further processing plant closures in the US, early data suggests US weekly cattle slaughter last week was 29% below the peak five weeks ago and 27% below the same time last year, according to Steiner Consulting Read more>

US capacity cuts hitting beef exports
Cuts to US cattle slaughter capacity due to COVID-19 have pushed US exports lower and prices higher during May. While there have been some signs of a modest increase in US beef processing capacity since mid May, COVID-19 is likely to continue to slow chain speeds and cause disruptions up and down the supply chain throughout the remainder of 2020. Read more>

US beef production recovering
Beef production in the US is recovering after contracting through May. Brazilian beef production has slowed, yet exports continue to perform well due to a hungry Chinese market. Read more>

Consumer insights

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Impact of Covid-19 – China in focus
China, as the first country to deal with COVID-19, can illustrate the impact on red meat through supply and logistics, sales channels and consumption habits. China offers insight into some likely impacts, challenges and opportunities as the virus spreads into other markets. Read more>

Keeping Australian red meat on the plates around the globe
MLA’s Managers based in Australia’s major red meat export regions provide insights into how red meat consumption is changing in the face of COVID-19 disruptions. Read more >


Chinese consumer insights
Findings from new MLA research on the impact of COVID-19 on Chinese consumers point to sustained opportunities for high value Australian red meat exports to China. Read more>

China’s red meat imports remain firm
China’s monthly beef imports during 2020 reflect the volatility of the first quarter, with a convergence of push and pull factors – Lunar New Year, African Swine Fever and COVID-19. Read more>


Challenges and opportunities for Australian red meat
How has the coronavirus outbreak affected the Australian domestic red meat market and how is MLA pivoting marketing activities at this time? Here, Domestic Marketing Manager Graeme Yardy discusses the impacts of COVID-19 and challenges and opportunities that it is presenting for Australian red meat. Read more>

Consumer concerns impacting consumption
As the impact of COVID-19 continues to unfold, this environment has led to a lot of uncertainty amongst consumers across Australia at this time. Whether concerned over their personal health, job security and personal finances - all these concerns are prompting a shift in consumer sentiment and behaviour. Read more>

The Middle East

The Middle East/North Africa region is experiencing constrained consumer spending driven by economic uncertainty from COVID-19 and low oil prices. Lower sheepmeat supply out of Australia and increased air freight costs are compounding upward pressure on prices in the region. The sharp drop in sheepmeat demand by foodservice operators is only partly offset by growth in retail sales. Read more>

Retail and foodservice insights

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Shifting global demands
With the impact of COVID-19 unfolding, factors underpinning demand for red meat around the world keep shifting. As foodservice channels slow and, in some cases, grind to a halt, demand for meat through retail, particularly online, has lifted significantly. This is leading to a shift in the cut mix sold domestically and around the world. Read more>

Keeping Australian red meat on the plates around the globe
MLA’s Managers based in Australia’s major red meat export regions provide insights into how red meat consumption is changing in the face of COVID-19 disruptions. Read more >

Global foodservice trends
The foodservice sector is a critically important outlet for Australian red meat, but the pandemic has severely impacted its performance across markets. Reduction in demand from foodservice is being partially offset by increased sales in retail. Read More>


Impact on domestic retail demand
As the impact of COVID-19 continues to unfold, this has led to a lot of uncertainty amongst consumers across Australia. Whether concerned over their personal health, job security and finance, these factors are prompting a shift in consumers' usual purchasing behaviour. Read more>

Impact on Australian foodservice and retail
Scott Cameron is MLA’s National Customer Development Manager working across Australia’s domestic markets. Here, he talks through the current trends and how MLA is supporting foodservice and retail through COVID-19. Read more >

South Korea

With South Korea’s economy showing strong signs of recovery, MLA’s in-country Korea marketing team is supporting Australian exporters in potentially creating a new channel into Korea for high value tenderloins. Read more >

United States

Rob Williams is MLA’s Regional Manager – North America, based in Washington DC. Here, he talks through the impacts of COVID-19 on the US meat and livestock industry, and how MLA is responding to the situation in-market. Read more >

Red meat and livestock exports

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Red meat exports

Impact on exports in March
Australian beef exports in March fell 8% year-on-year, with volumes down across all major markets except Japan and Indonesia. Australian lamb exports fell 5% in March (year-on-year) with volumes up to China, the US, Qatar and Japan and down in other major markets. Read more>

Growing export prices push the value of Australian red meat
While global trade is struggling at the hand of COVID-19, the value of Australian red meat exports in the first quarter this year grew 20% year-on-year to A$3.7 billion. Read more >

Livestock exports

COVID-19 is hampering beef demand in Australia’s largest cattle export market, Indonesia. While Indonesia has strong fundamentals for increased beef consumption, short term massive social restrictive measures have suppressed sales and demand and the threat of a recession has flowed through to live export prices. Read more>


Beef offal prices have found support across several categories, as offshore demand for lower value red meat products remains strong. Hide prices remain flat as suppliers wait on end markets and tanneries to reopen. Read more >

Livestock prices and supply

Livestock prices and supply

Cattle prices

COVID-19 sees cattle market adjustment
A renewed sense of optimism has swept through the cattle markets on the back of widespread rainfall, over the last two months. This still holds true, however, over the same period the realities of COVID-19 and the extent of disruption have altered the bigger picture. Read more>

Australian cattle prices out of sync with global markets
Cattle prices in the US and South America have weakened in March, as COVID-19 uncertainty and swelling supplies have turned markets bearish. With such rapid and diverging changes in domestic and global prices over the past month, processor’s will have been under pressure. However, it appears that the growth in Australian cattle prices has just begun to ease, suggesting that a potential market ceiling has been reached. Read more>

Sheep prices

With the impact of COVID-19 restrictions creating an uncertain demand outlook, has Australian lamb remained competitive in the global market? Read more>

Cattle on feed

The results of the latest ALFA/MLA feedlot survey reported a 12% decline in the number of cattle on feed in the March quarter compared to the December quarter. Widespread rainfall earlier in the year supported restocker intentions and created heightened competition in the lot feeding sector. The prevalence of COVID-19 and the impact on foodservice demand further compounded the decline in cattle on feed numbers. Read more>

Cattle projections

Cattle projections

Widespread rainfall since February has fuelled the prospect of the national beef cattle herd entering a rebuilding phase for the first time in three years. Read more >

Sheep projections

Sheep projections

A recovery in the national flock is underway, with sheep producers in key regions now in a position to consider increasing flock numbers, buoyed by improved seasonal conditions. Read more>