2008: A Record Year for Australian Exports

AUSTRALIA - Against all odds the Australian beef and veal industries exported products in record numbers during 2008. The results have been largely attributed to failing competition.
calendar icon 12 January 2009
clock icon 3 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

According to figures just released by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, exports for the 2008 calendar year reached 957,479 tonnes – 2 per cent higher than 2007 when 941,400 tonnes were exported and surpassing the previous record high of 953,932 tonnes set in 2006.

Meat and Livestock Association's (MLA) chief market analyst Peter Weeks said while Australia’s three largest export markets - Japan, the US and Korea - still made up the bulk of beef exports, a feature of 2008 was a surge in demand from "second tier" markets such as Russia and South East Asia.

"Russia emerged as Australia’s fourth largest beef market in 2008 with the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) taking a record 72,035 tonnes, almost all of which went to Russia," Mr Weeks said.

"These results were assisted through lower competition from other exporting countries, such as Brazil"
Meat and Livestock Association's (MLA) chief market analyst Peter Weeks

South East Asian markets also performed well with surges in demand from Indonesia (up 23 per cent to 33,019 tonnes), the Philippines (up 314 per cent to 14,143 tonnes), Singapore (up 46 per cent to 8,061 tonnes) and Malaysia (up 87 per cent to 6,183 tonnes).

"These results were assisted through lower competition from other exporting countries, such as Brazil, which assisted Australia’s exports to the region," Mr Weeks said.

Japan easily maintained its place as Australia’s largest beef export market in 2008, with exports falling 4 per cent year-on-year, to 364,302 tonnes. Whilst exports for 2008 to Japan remained 10 per cent below the record volume of 405,794 tonnes in 2006, it was still a very strong result given lower grainfed beef supply, the higher A$ during the first half of the year and increased competition from the US later in the year.

In Korea, Australia’s third largest market, increased competition from US beef during the second half of 2008 contributed to a 15 per cent decline in Australian exports for the calendar year, to 127,207 tonnes.

"However this remains 104 per cent over the export volumes seen prior to the US being locked out of the Korean market, which demonstrates that Australia is well placed to hold much of the gain that has been made during the US absence," Mr Weeks said.

According to MLA, while exports to the US for 2008 fell to their lowest level since 1997, the final three months of the year saw a sharp turnaround as the fall in the A$ gave impetus to a 23 per cent jump in exports during that period.

A complete analysis of the outlook for 2009 for Australia’s beef and sheepmeat industries, including the impact of the lower A$ and global financial crisis, will be provided in MLA’s Industry Projections to be released later this month.

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