Aussie beef exports miss setting a new record in 2015 – just!

11 January 2016

Australian beef and veal exports during December 2015 confirmed the expectation of another huge shipping year, with the annual total coming in at 1.285 million tonnes swt – down just 0.15% from the record set in 2014 (Department of Agriculture and Water Resources).

As was widely documented during 2015, fuelling the sustained large export volumes were the extremely high adult cattle kill, particularly during the first half of the year, a weakening A$ during the year, and the strong global demand for beef.

Even though imported beef prices to the US softened from their record highs during 2015, they still finished 2015 higher than the five-year average, and the lure meant that the US was the largest volume destination by a large margin. Shipments reached a record 415,951 tonnes swt, up 5% year-on-year and 75% on the five-year average.

Encouragingly, the growth in chilled beef shipments to the US was up to an even greater extent than frozen. Chilled beef exports were up 23% year-on-year and 122% on the five-year average, at 87,121 tonnes swt. Frozen shipments for 2015 were 328,830 tonnes swt, up 1% year-on-year and 66% on the five-year average.

Australian beef and veal exports to Japan lost some ground from the year before (down 3%), at 285,224 tonnes swt. This was slightly lower than expectations, considering the reduced competition from the US, with a comparatively higher currency and a tariff advantage through the JAEPA. Nevertheless, chilled shipments were up 1% year-on-year, at 127,633 tonnes swt, while frozen declined 6%.

Korea proved itself a strong market for Australian beef, where the second year of tariff cuts assisted volumes to a 10% year-on-year increase and a 20% jump on the five-year average, at 166,588 tonnes swt.

Only just missing being a record volume, Australian shipments to China in 2015 were 148,222 tonnes swt, up 19% year-on-year and a staggering 128% on the five-year average. There was a small volume (6,998 tonnes swt) of chilled product exported, with the majority frozen.

Volumes to the remaining Australian beef export destinations can be seen in the table below.  

Looking forward, a significant reduction in Australian beef and veal exports is expected in 2016, simply due to a large fall in production in the wake of three unprecedented years of cattle slaughter.



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