January 19, 2004



Australian Beef Exports in 2003 Plunge To Lowest Level Since 1997


Australian beef and veal exports fell by nine percent to 840,930 tonnes in 2003 compared to the previous year, the Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) said on Monday. Exports to all markets virtually registered a decline. 


This was the lowest level exported since 1997, MLA said.


The fall was the result of a significant increase in the value of the Australian dollar, tighter domestic cattle availability following the country's worst drought in 100years, and lower demand in many export destinations, it said.


Particularly large falls were recorded in shipments to Canada, Korea and the Philippines.


However, exports rose to Japan as consumer demand for beef improved in 2003 as the country slowly recovered from several cases of mad cow disease and subsequent labelling scandals in2001, which sent beef consumption reeling.


"Given the reduced beef exports to Japan in 2002, increased consumer demand for beef in 2003 saw exports for the year rise18 percent to 279,400 tonnes," MLA said.


Following a very slow start to 2003, beef exports to the United States for 2003 totalled 368,010 tonnes, down by five percent on 385,900 tonnes in the previous year, MLA said.


"While weak foodservice demand and low export prices led to an 18 percent drop in beef exports for the first half of the year to 161,900 tonnes, increased beef demand and significantly higher export prices saw exports for the latter half of the year reach a record total of 206,100 tonnes sw," it said.


Beef exports to Canada fell 65 percent to 29,000 tonnes as demand for imported beef fell significantly following a positive test for BSE, or mad cow disease, in a Canadian cow in May 2003.


Beef exports to Korea also declined by 22 percent to 62,300tonnes because of reduced demand.


The higher Australian dollar, which rose by around 34percent against the U.S. dollar in 2003, reduced the competitiveness of Australian beef in South East Asia, MLA said.


This contributed to declines of nine percent in exports to Taiwan to 31,100 tonnes, 11 percent to Indonesia to 13,000tonnes, and 33 percent in the Philippines to 8,600 tonnes, MLA said.

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