Beef exports lift for first time in 24 months

08 August 2017

Australian beef exports in July totalled just under 93,000 tonnes shipped weight (swt) – a 9% increase year-on-year. While the rise was off a low base from year-ago levels, this marks the first year-on-year increase in Australian beef exports in 24 months.

Calendar year-to-date beef exports now stand at 566,000 tonnes swt, a decline of 8% compared to the first seven months of 2016. However, in MLA’s latest cattle projections, an upwards revision to the Australian production forecast for 2017, underpinned by increased eastern states cattle slaughter and heavier average carcase weights, should see beef exports match the 1.02 million tonnes swt last year.

Export Summary

Japan continues to uphold its position as Australia’s largest export market (in volume terms). Beef shipments to Japan totalled 27,000 tonnes swt in July – up 12% from year-ago levels. High domestic Wagyu prices and excellent seasonal conditions in Japan have supported the demand for imported beef.

Furthermore, Australia looks well positioned to benefit from the recent trigger of the Japanese imported frozen beef quota. The US, Australia’s key competitor in supplying the Japanese market, will attract a 50% tariff on frozen beef exported to Japan until March 2018. Australia is sheltered from the tariff increase, under the Japan Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA).

Shipments to the US in July were up 19% year-on-year, at just over 23,000 tonnes swt. Encouragingly, the rise was despite Australian exports to the US being challenged by a number of factors, including rising US beef production and a stronger Australian dollar.

Exports to Korea remained relatively unchanged year-on-year, at 14,000 tonnes swt. Calendar year-to-July exports are back 18% year-on-year, at 81,000 tonnes swt – largely due increasing US presence. However, the long term prospects for this market are forecast to remain strong.   

Beef exports to China increased 10% year-on-year, to almost 9,000 tonnes swt. Demand for Australian beef, particularly high quality grassfed product remains strong in China, however the presence of lower-value Brazilian product continues to be a challenge. For the calendar year-to-July, volumes to China were 8% higher, at 60,000 tonnes swt.

In other markets in July, exports to Indonesia increased 15% year-on-year, to 5,300 tonnes swt. Shipments to the EU (1,500 tonnes swt) and Taiwan (2,800 tonnes swt) fell 2% and 6% year-on-year, respectively.  

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