Ministry Announces Record Beef Exports for Australia

AUSTRALIA - Beef exports volumes broke the 1 million tonne barrier for the 2012/13 fiscal year in a benchmark period for the Australian cattle industry, according to government records.
calendar icon 3 July 2013
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Meat & Livestock Australia

By rising seven per cent on the previous financial year, beef exports lifted to 1.1014 million tonnes swt - the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has confirmed.

Government analysts attribute the growth to increased shipments to China, the Middle East and Korea as certain regions were forced into slaughtering cattle due to deteriorating drought conditions. This forced a glut on the market and kept the price of Australian cattle down, matinaing price competiveness. 

However, it should be noted while volumes reached a record high for 2012-13, the value of Australia’s beef exports were mixed, demonstrating a two-speed global beef market, write market anlaysts at Meat and Livestock Australia.

Strong global demand for cheaper, frozen beef (largely made up of manufacturing beef) pushed prices to near-record levels, while demand for higher valued chilled cuts remained sluggish, largely representative of tougher trading conditions into Australia’s traditional north Asian markets.

On a monthly basis, exports for June totalled 87,788 tonnes swt, up 8 per cent on the corresponding month last year and making the ninth consecutive year-on-year increase.

As was the case for the past 12 months, China (10,657 tonnes swt), the Middle East (5,246 tonnes swt) and Korea (11,062 tonnes swt) accounted for most of the increase for the month, while shipments to Japan (down 24 per cent , to 25,341 tonnes swt) and the US (down 7 per cent , to 16,102 tonnes swt) declined.

For 2012-13, Japan easily remained Australia’s largest beef export markets, at 298,840 tonnes swt – down 8 per cent on the previous year and the lowest fiscal year volume since 2002-03. In contrast to Japan, Australian exports to Korea for 2012-13 increased 12 per cent year-on-year, to 137,695 tonnes swt.

After showing improved volumes during the final few months of 2012, exports to the US slowed in recent months, as competition increased from other markets, namely China, say experts at Meat and Livestock Australia.

For 2012-13, Australian beef exports to the US increased 1 per cent on the previous year, at 206,571 tonnes swt.

The fastest growing market throughout the previous financial year was China, which went from taking 7,736 tonnes swt in 2011-12, to an astounding 92,278 tonnes swt in 2012-13, or an annual increase of 1,093 per cent .

A combination of tight local supplies, increased emphasis on food safety and rapid growth in the Chinese fast food sector contributed to the rapid increase in exports throughout the past 12 months.

Other markets to register increased volumes of Australian beef for 2012-13 included the Middle East – up 51 per cent on the previous year, to a record 47,912 tonnes swt. Growth was also registered to the Philippines (up 54 per cent , to 29,667 tonnes swt), Malaysia (up 11 per cent , to 16,563 tonnes swt), the EU (up 31 per cent , to 17,515 tonnes swt) and Canada (up 37 per cent , to 16,634 tonnes swt).

The growth of previously smaller markets, into major destinations for Australian beef, like China and the Middle East, continues to see less beef being sent to the “big three” markets of Japan, the US and Korea.

For 2012-13, exports to markets other than the “big three” accounted for 36.6 per cent of total exports, or 370,772 tonnes swt. For the previous decade, exports to other markets accounted for 19 per cent of total exports, or an average of 173,992 tonnes swt.

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