July 7, 2023


Australia's beef exports surge in June



Australia experienced a sharp rise in beef exports during June, aligning with increased levels of slaughter as the country entered winter, Beef Central reported.


Total exports to all markets reached over 94,000 tonnes, showing a 3.3% increase compared to the previous month and an 18% growth from June of the previous year, when herd rebuilding was still underway after a period of drought.


The upward momentum in beef production is evident in the six-month figures from January to June, with export volume reaching 478,379 tonnes. This marks a substantial increase of almost 80,000 tonnes or 20% compared to the same period last year.


The most significant increase was observed in frozen beef exports, reflecting a rise in the number of culled cows as the drought-related herd recovery phase comes to an end. The Australian Meat Industry's mid-year projections have been revised upwards, anticipating a strong increase in beef production in the second half of the year. This is attributed to higher supplies of slaughter cattle, improved processing capacity, and historically elevated carcass weights.


The revised forecast predicts that national slaughter for the year will reach 6.95 million head, representing a 5% upward revision compared to the initial January forecast. This, in turn, has led to higher expectations for total beef production and beef exports.


Australia's major beef export markets experienced larger volumes in June. Notably, the US re-established itself as Australia's largest beef market by volume, taking 20,585 tonnes of beef for the month. This represents a significant increase compared to the same period last year, with frozen manufacturing beef comprising the majority of the trade. The past two months have seen the strongest trade with the US since 2021.


China also demonstrated strong demand for Australian beef, importing 19,583 tonnes in June, a 39% increase from the previous year. This trend has continued throughout the year, with China importing nearly 99,000 tonnes to date, a 25% rise compared to last year. This increase can be attributed in part to Brazil's temporary suspension of trade with China due to an atypical case of BSE, which created an opportunity for Australian beef to fill the gap until Brazilian shipments resumed in May.


Japan ranked closely behind China in terms of export volume, importing 18,831 tonnes of Australian beef in June, with almost half of it being chilled. This represents a slight decrease from the previous month and a 16% decline compared to June of the previous year. South Korea remained an important market for Australian beef, importing 14,486 tonnes in June, similar to the previous year. Trade with Indonesia continued to grow, reaching 5,829 tonnes, a 26% increase from the previous year.


While trade with the United Kingdom under the new Free Trade Agreement commenced in June, the volume remained relatively low. Only 273 tonnes of Australian beef were shipped to the UK, mainly in chilled, boneless form. This represents a slight increase from the previous month but is still a small portion of the overall trade.


Looking ahead, the trade expects slow but steady growth in the UK market, with the possibility of introducing high-end chilled products like Wagyu under the new tariff-free regime later this year.


-         Beef Central

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