Record Australian beef exports in 2006

AUSTRALIA - According to figures released by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Australian beef and veal exports rose 5% during 2006 to a record 953,932 tonnes swt – 1% above the previous record of 946,629 tonnes exported during 2001. Eighty-nine per cent of total exports for the year were sent to just three countries: Japan (42.5%), the US (31%) and Korea (15.7%).
calendar icon 11 January 2007
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The majority of the increase in Australia’s beef and veal exports for the year was to Korea. Shipments to Korea jumped 41% on the previous record set in 2005, to 149,663 tonnes swt, as strong demand for Australian product continued, assisted by the ongoing absence of US product. Grassfed beef exports were up 31% to 108,000 tonnes, while grainfed beef exports rose 75% to 41,200 tonnes. While South Korea announced the resumption of boneless beef imports from the US in early September, the three shipments of US beef that arrived in 2006 did not pass customs because of the discovery of bone fragments.

Exports to Japan in 2006 increased slightly on 2005 levels, to a record 405,796 tonnes. Exports for the first seven months of the year were 8% below year ago levels, due to lower Australian supplies and uncertainty about the return of US beef to Japan. However, over the period from August to December, exports were 14% above year ago levels. While the resumption of US beef imports into Japan was approved in July, restrictions have limited initial imports of US beef.

The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) emerged as a significant market for Australian beef shipments in 2006, receiving 12,512 tonnes swt – a jump from the 510 tonnes exported in 2005. Limited beef supplies from the EU and South America have generated demand for Australian beef in this market.

Exports to Indonesia and South Africa have also risen notably, with shipments to Indonesia up 39% to 12,153 tonnes swt. Exports to South Africa increased to 3,143 tonnes, up from 139 tonnes in 2005.

Partially offsetting these gains was an 8% fall in Australian beef exports to the US, to 295,267 tonnes swt. This decrease in exports can largely be attributed to the strong competition for product from North Asian markets. On a bright note, chilled beef exports to the US reached a record high in 2006, totaling 33,541 tonnes.

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