Tight supplies limit January beef exports

07 February 2017

Australian beef exports for the month of January totalled 50,811 tonnes shipped weight (swt) – down 13% year-on-year, as ongoing supply constraints continue to limit beef available for exports (Department of Agriculture and Water Resources). Chilled beef exports declined 11% year-on-year, to 14,609 swt, while frozen exports fell 14%, to 36,202 swt. Grainfed beef exports totalled 14,737 tonnes swt, which represents a 3% year-on-year increase. Grassfed beef exports dropped 18% compared to the same period last year, to 36,074 tonnes swt.

Lamb exports increased 16% year-on-year for the first month of the year, to 20,359 tonnes swt, in line with the seasonal increase in supplies. 

Beef volumes to the US declined 31% year-on-year, to 11,614 tonnes swt, as US domestic production continues to ramp up. Furthermore, the strong start to the year for the Australian dollar has made the US a less attractive market. Lamb and goat exports to the US increased 14% and 40% respectively – albeit off a low base from the previous year. Goat exports to the US last year accounted for 66% of total goat exports and international demand for goatmeat continues to grow. 

Beef exports to Japan totalled 14,317 tonnes swt, representing a 23% increase compared with the same period last year, underpinned by a rise in grainfed beef volumes, increasing 20% year-on-year.   

To Korea, Australian beef shipments declined 3% year-on-year, to 9,232 tonnes swt. Lamb exports to Korea lifted 32%, to 1,118 tonnes swt, as the seasonal increase in lamb availability boosted export volumes.  

Beef exports to China in January were relatively unchanged year-on-year, at 6,900 tonnes swt. Lamb shipments jumped 54% year-on-year, to 4,698 tonnes swt, stimulated by Chinese New Year which fell earlier than usual this year. 

Elsewhere, beef exports to the EU in January declined 33% year-on-year, to 886 tonnes swt. Beef exports to Saudi Arabia dropped 65% comparable to the same period last year, to 552 tonnes swt, as the presence of Brazilian beef continue to grow in the Middle East.  Indonesia beef exports were down 39% comparable with the same period last year, to 2,434 tonnes swt.

As highlighted in MLA’s recently released Beef Industry Projections, Australian beef exports for 2017 are projected to fall 5% year-on-year, to 970,000 tonnes swt. While this is expected to be the third consecutive year-on-year fall, it will still be the fifth highest export volume on record – behind 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2013. For a more detailed forecast, watch the latest beef industry projections video summary or view the full Beef Industry Projections document.

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