August 5, 2004



Australia's Beef Exports In July Rise On Japanese Demand


Beef shipments from Australia, the world's biggest exporter of the meat, rose for the fifth straight month in July as Japanese buyers increased orders after bans on U.S. supplies.


Sales abroad climbed 9.7 percent in July from a year earlier to 81,394 metric tons, according to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry in Canberra. Exports to Japan, which accounted for almost half the monthly total, rose 58 percent, helping to send cattle prices to a three-year high.


Japan, South Korea and at least 38 other countries banned U.S. beef in December after one case of mad cow disease was found in a Washington state herd. Australia's beef export revenue surged 17 percent to A$2.05 billion ($1.4 billion) in the first half. Increased demand and a drought-induced shortage have pushed cattle prices up 19 percent this year.


"The very strong demand from Japan and South Korea in the first half of this year drew a lot of young cattle off farms and into feedlots," said Peter Weeks, chief market analyst with Sydney-based trade group Meat & Livestock Australia. "Feedlot operators and other buyers are now competing pretty hard for the few heavier-weight cattle that are still around."


Feedlots are intensive weight-gain farms.


Japan's agriculture minister, Yoshiyuki Kamei, said last month the country did not have an immediate plan to lift the ban on beef imports from the U.S. The trade may resume by the end of this year at the earliest.


Australia's beef exports to the U.S., traditionally its biggest customer by volume, declined 4.1 percent to 32,046 tons in July from a year ago. Sales to South Korea tumbled by half to 4,299 tons.


Beef shipments were worth A$3.68 billion in the year ended June 30, making the commodity Australia's most-valuable farm export, according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics.


The volume of sales abroad reached 510,022 tons in the seven months ended July 31, 5.5 percent more than in the same period of 2003.

Video >

Follow Us