Japan and China support March beef exports

06 April 2017

Australian beef exports in March totalled 90,734 tonnes shipped weight (swt) – down 6% year-on-year, underpinned by ongoing supply constraints across the country (Department of Agriculture and Water Resources). However, beef exports through March lifted 21% month-on-month. Click here to view March Monthly Global Trade Summary.

Japan recorded the highest monthly Australian beef export volume since July 2013 – March shipments totalled 28,246 tonnes swt, representing an 18% increase compared with the same period last year. Grainfed exports were 12% higher year-on-year, and grassfed beef was up 24% year-on-year. Looking ahead, beef exports will further benefit from a tariff reduction on 1st April under the Japan Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA).

Exports to the US increased 27% month-on-month, totalling 21, 972 tonnes swt – albeit coming off a low base from the previous month. Compared to the same time last year, however, exports were 16% lower. Limited cattle availability remains an issue in supplying the US market but the upturn in US production has also been an influencing factor. US imported beef prices have been trading at a premium to that of the domestic equivalent, with market participants reluctant to enter the imported market at such high prices.

Beef exports to China in March lifted 8% year-on-year, to 10,623 tonnes swt. Grainfed exports were the highest on record, at 2,783 tonnes swt, while grassfed volumes totalled 7,840 tonnes swt – continuing to support the growing demand for high quality grassfed product in China. In the medium to long term, exports to China are likely to benefit from the improved access to the chilled beef market for Australian exporters, having previously been restricted to only a number of eligible suppliers.

Ongoing supply constraints were reflected in some of Australia’s other major markets in March. To Korea, Australian beef shipments declined 25% year-to-year, to 12,160 tonnes swt, while exports to the EU fell 29% year-on-year, to 1,602 tonnes swt. Volumes to Indonesia were down 20% compared with the same period last year, to 2,718 tonnes swt.

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