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Live cattle exports climb in 2019

23 January 2020

Key points:

  • Live cattle exports in 2019 were up 19% on 2018
  • Breeder exports to China lift by 78% to reach 140,000 head for 2019
  • Kuwait, Jordan and the UAE were key growth markets for live sheep exports in 2019.

2019 was a strong year for live cattle exports, with numbers totalling 1.3 million head, up 19% on 2018. Breeder cattle were up 63% year on year, contributing to the overall growth for the year, driven primarily by China who accounted for 80% of all breeder cattle exports out of Australia.

Feeder cattle shipments in 2019 lifted by over 100,000 head to reach 847,000 head for the year, up 14% on year ago levels and largely driven by growth to Indonesia. Shipments of slaughter cattle lifted 17% year-on-year, an increase of 41,000 head, primarily driven by growth to Vietnam.

2019 live cattle market summary:

  • Indonesia: 676,000 head, up 15% year-on-year
  • Vietnam: 267,000 head, up 32% year-on-year
  • China: 158,000 head, up 45% year-on-year
  • Israel: 78,000 head, up 29% year-on-year
  • Russia: 37,000 head, down 13% year-on-year.

Live sheep exports had a strong finish to 2019, with December numbers reaching 174,000 head, taking the 2019 total to 1.12 million head, up 1% on 2018.

2019 live sheep market summary:

  • Kuwait: 385,000 head, up 58% year-on-year
  • Qatar: 335,000 head, up 12% year-on-year
  • Jordan: 189,000 head, up 63% year-on-year
  • UAE: 102,000 head, up 47% year-on-year
  • Israel: 44,000 head, down 30% year-on-year
  • Note: Turkey reported zero exports in 2019, down from 214,815 in 2018.

Demand for Australian cattle through South East Asia is expected to remain robust, however, cattle exports are anticipated to remain below one million head over the next few years due to a severely depleted northern herd. Meanwhile, although demand for freshly slaughtered sheep will remain in key markets across the Middle East, future sheep exports from Australia will hinge on the regulatory environment the trade operates under.

For more information, please see the December edition of Livelink.

© Meat & Livestock Australia Limited, 2019