2015 – a strong year for beef exports to China

17 December 2015

Australia’s beef exports to China in 2015 were strong, with year-to-date increases recorded in volume (Jan-Nov) and value (Jan-Oct) compared to 2014. At the same time, a strong competitor, Brazil, also regained access to China.  

In 2015, China was Australia’s fourth largest beef market, taking around 11 percent of our beef exports. Australia also remained China’s largest official beef supplier.

Australia’s total beef and veal export volume to China was up 18% in 2015 (January to November) compared to 2014, totaling 135,046 tonnes swt.  And the value of Australia’s total beef exports to China from 2015 (January to October) was up 51% on 2014, totaling A$814 million.

The growth in the total value of beef exported to China has been supported by a strong unit price and growing chilled beef volumes.

Australian beef exports to China averaged A$6.66 per kilogram year-to-date to October 2015, which was 34% higher than for the same period in 2014. Since Brazil regained access to China in June 2015, Brazil’s unit price for beef imported into China has been very similar to Australia’s.

Frozen beef still comprises the vast majority (95%) of Australia’s beef exports to China. However, chilled volumes are gradually increasing and represent high value – Australia’s frozen beef unit price exported to China Jan-Oct 2015 was A$6.52/kg FOB, and A$9.37/kg FOB for chilled beef.

Australia remains the only country with chilled beef access to China, with exports resuming in July 2014 after a nine-month suspension. Australia exported a total of 6,069 tonnes swt chilled beef to China from January to November 2015. September 2014 saw the biggest post-suspension monthly volume of chilled beef imported by China from Australia at 775 tonnes swt, still significantly down on the monthly pre-suspension peak of 2,375 tonnes swt in July 2013.

Over the last six years, China has diversified the beef cuts it takes from Australia. Indeed, the share of the top five cuts of frozen beef exports to China has fallen in just the past year from 66% in 2014 (Jan-Nov) to 61% in 2015. The biggest year-on-year changes saw falls in the share of carcase (17% in 2014, 10% in 2015) and an increase in manufacturing (4% in 2014 to 8% in 2015).


Regarding chilled beef export cuts, comparing 2015 to 2014 (Jan-Nov), there were comparatively smaller magnitude shifts, including falls in the share of brisket, chuck roll and striploin and growth in the share of shin/shank.


Since Brazil re-gained access to China in June 2015, Australia’s grain fed beef export volumes have grown, reaching near-record high volumes – registering 2,540 tonnes swt during October, up 178% year-on-year.

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