July 5, 2011


Australia's 2010-11 meat exports climb 4%



Australian beef and veal exports increased 4% for 2010-11, totalling 937,298 tonnes swt, as against last year.


Underpinning the growth throughout the past 12 months were record volumes to Russia, the Middle East, China and Singapore, as the volume of beef going to markets other than Japan, the US and Korea hit a 32-year high.


After a very difficult 2009-10 (898,962 tonnes swt), largely due to sluggish demand in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis, global beef demand accelerated during the second half of 2010 and into early 2011 - with prices accentuated by very tight global supplies, including from Australia. While the global beef market hit a somewhat flat spot throughout May and June, overall 2010-11 could be assessed as a positive year for demand globally, albeit following two very tough years in 2008-09 and 2009-10.


For Australian beef exporters, the rising Australian dollar was the main impediment to trade throughout 2010-11, accentuated in the final few months of the year, when export markets slowed, especially in Japan. The Australian dollar averaged 13% higher against the US$ in 2010-11, at US$1, while it also increased 13% against the euro, 8% on the Korean won, 6% against the Indonesian rupiah and 2% against the Japanese yen.


On the supply front, Australian shipments for the past year were influenced by the very wet conditions across the eastern and northern states, which hampered cattle movements, primarily from November to January.


While supplies were impacted right through the year, as producers looked to rebuild drought depleted herds on the back of the better season, extensive flooding throughout the summer month's hindered transport and mustering. The most notable impact was in January 2011, when devastating flooding in South East Queensland saw monthly slaughter fall to its lowest level in 22 years.


Despite the current tough conditions facing Australian exporters to Japan, shipments for the past fiscal year increased 0.4% on-year, to 351,388 tonnes swt - making up 37.5% of all Australia's beef exports.


However, an on-year increase in shipments for 2010-11 was only registered for five out of the 12 months, with the largest volumes shipped in August, November and February.


The situation for Australian exporters in 2010-11 is probably best demonstrated by the fall in returns, with indicative monthly average prices for Australian beef falling 4-19% between January and June 2011.


Contributing to the tougher conditions to Japan in 2010-11 has been a surge in product from the US, along with the depressed economic and consumer demand following the series of disasters in mid-March. Japanese imports of US beef were up 39% for the first 11 months of 2010-11, to 98,921 tonnes swt, with the very weak US currency assisting the price competitiveness of US product.

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