How Australia’s red meat industry is working to protect and grow our market volume, share and value of beef exported to China

17 September 2015

Australia represents the largest share of China’s official beef imports and has seen steady growth in export volume this year, but Uruguay and Argentina are starting to take a larger slice of Australia’s share of China’s beef imports.

Australia’s market share of official beef imports to China is still the largest, at 39% for the 2014-15 fiscal year. The volume of Australia’s beef exports to China has been growing over this past year – up 220% from 5,513 tonnes in February, to 17,668 tonnes in July.


Despite this growth, Australia’s market share has declined from the peak of 53% share in the 2013-14 fiscal year, losing 14% share during the past fiscal year.

This has been taken up by Uruguay, which has increased its share from 24% in 2012-13, to 32% in 2014-15, and by Argentina, which had less than 2% in 2012-13 and is now 9% 2014-15.

The overall volume of beef imported into China through the official channel has been growing, in response to its “grey channel” crackdowns earlier in the year. China’s official total beef import volume, as reported by China Customs, is up 137% from 19,704 tonnes in February, to 46,758 tonnes in July this year.


Price is a key factor. The unit price for beef imported into China from Uruguay is the lowest of the official importing countries and significantly lower than Australia’s. At the same time, Australia’s unit price is still comparatively competitive.


There are a number of ways the Australian red meat industry is working to protect and, grow, its market share and value of beef imported by China:

  • The ChAFTA is expected to demonstrate gradual reduction of tariffs on Australian beef going into China, helping to make it more competitive.
  • The Australian beef industry is working on building demand in China for higher value cuts, to grow export value. Currently 10 Australian plants have been approved to export chilled beef to China and Australian technical market access experts are working to increase this number. They believe increasing export volume of premium cuts of chilled beef is one way to showcase the competitive advantages of Australian beef in terms of nutritional value, taste and eating quality, helping to create a “halo” effect around Australian red meat overall.

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