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Australia’s grainfed beef not just for export markets

03 September 2021

Key points:

  • For the second quarter in a row, grainfed beef accounts for 50% of total production
  • 50% of domestically consumed beef is grainfed
  • The feedlot sector has provided continuity in a period of tight supply

MLA’s quarterly grainfed production and consumption calculation estimates that for the second successive quarter, grainfed beef accounted for 50% of total Australian beef production, and more than half of domestically consumed beef.

This challenges the common perception that grainfed beef often only flows to export markets, and shows supermarkets are taking larger cuts of grainfed product.

The herd rebuild, based on improved seasonal conditions, has encouraged producers to build up their inventory – leaving less stock available to be processed. As a result, cattle slaughter is down 24% on 2020 year-to-June levels. During this time, the grainfed sector has provided a degree of continuity, ensuring that Australian cattle continue to flow through to processors, with grainfed turn-off only down 3% year-on-year.

While in the second quarter of 2021 grainfed animals only accounted for 45% of slaughter, they accounted for 50% of beef production due to the higher weights achieved in feedlots. This is demonstrated with cattle carcase weights averaging 310kg/head in the June quarter – up 23kg on the same quarter in 2020.

The proportion of beef production coming from feedlots rose 8% in the 2021 June quarter, compared to the same time in 2020, further reinforcing the strength of the feedlot sector to underpin supply during the rebuild.