Beef bounces back

06 June 2017

Australian beef exports in May were a little over 95,000 tonnes shipped weight (swt), down 5% year-on-year – underpinned by ongoing supply constraints. Month-on-month, however, beef exports lifted 43%. Albeit this was from the low base in April, as Easter and Anzac Day holidays heightened disruptions to already tight supplies. Click here to view May Monthly Global Trade Summary.

Beef shipments in May were actually the largest since twelve months prior. However, calendar year-to-date exports continue to reflect the limited availability of cattle in Australia.

Export Summary

Japan recorded another strong month, at 26,000 tonnes swt. For the year-to-date, exports were up 12%, at 112,000 tonnes swt –the best performing market for Australia. Since 1st April, beef exports have benefited from a tariff reduction under Japan Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA). High domestic Wagyu prices and excellent seasonal conditions in Japan have supported the demand for imported beef. 

Shipments to the US in May totalled 23,000 tonnes swt – the highest monthly volume to this market so far this year. Compared to the same time last year, however, exports for the month were back 21% and for the year-to date were 28% lower. Rising US beef production, as well as Australian beef supply constraints, are the predominant factors limiting export volumes to the US market.

For the year-to-date, exports to Korea declined 23% to 53,000 tonnes swt. The upturn in US production has created strong competition from US exporters supplying this market.

Beef exports to China in May lifted 15% year-on-year, at 9,700 tonnes swt. Frozen volumes performed strongly, up 19% year-on-year. For the year-to-date, exports were up 7% from last year, at 42,300 tonnes swt. Although demand for high quality grassfed product in China is robust, the presence of lower-value product from Brazil continues to challenge Australian imports.

In other markets, beef exports into the EU increased 2% year-on-year, at 1,550 tonnes swt. However, for the year-to-date, exports have declined 27% compared with last year.Volumes to Indonesia were down 41% compared with the same period last year, to 6,130 tonnes swt.

Export Values

Value data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is available for January to March. Beef exports to Japan totalled A$417 million FOB, an increase of 20% year-on-year. Unsurprisingly, the values of exports to the US were down 31%, at A$330 million FOB.

The value of the Korean market for the three month period declined 18% year-on-year, to A$244 million FOB. Growing demand in China for high quality grassfed product contributed to a 24% increase in the value of beef exports for the year-to-March, to A$180 million FOB.

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