September 22, 2003



Australian Beef Exports In Various Markets 


Australian weather conditions remain a key factor in cattle markets, as dry and warm to hot spring conditions caused cattle prices to fall throughout the country this week. Sale numbers have gone up by 13 percent, as drought-stricken Queensland saw crops and pastures wilt.


Quality remains mixed across all categories, as the number of crop and supplementary fed cattle decline, particularly in the arid north. 


Price of export cattle have remained despite no surge in demand. Mixed quality and large numbers in northern areas were two of the factors behind this trend.


The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported July beef exports down 20 percent to A$283 million, compared with A$355 million in July 2002.


While export values to Japan increased for July year-on-year, export values to the United States, Korea, Canada and Taiwan all declined significantly. Slow U.S. demand for Australian manufacturing beef, combined with historically low CIF prices and a stronger Australian dollar, have seen the July exports to the United States fall 24 percent on last year, to just below A$100 million. Export value to the United States to date has fallen 30 percent to A$693 million this year, while export volumes have fallen by a smaller degree, by 14 percent to 203,657 tonnes.


Beef exports to Korea during July were worth A$20.7 million, down 32 percent on last year, while the total value of beef exports to Japan during July increased on last year by 16 percent to A$118 million, primarily due to a 22 percent increase in total beef exports to 26,272 tonnes.


Japanese market stronger despite rising tariffs 


Australian beef export prices continued to strengthen in Japan this week for both chilled and frozen product.


Due to the high prices of both Australian and US beef, major Japanese importers have been reluctant to buy, leading to a shortage of chilled and frozen product in the wholesale market.


Both the Australian Embassy and MLA's regional office in Japan have raised concerns that both the chilled and frozen beef safeguards could be triggered in the first quarter of the Japanese fiscal year (JFY) in 2004.


A rapid recovery in frozen imports is not expected, given the market environment in Japan, tight beef supplies in Australia and the United States and the strong Australian dollar.


U.S., Korean markets steady


The market for imported beef in the U.S. market displayed limited price movements this week with CIF prices for lean grinding meat up to one U.S. cent a lb dearer than last week. Trade was uncertain due to a tighter domestic market, with many expecting prices for lean manufacturing beef to ease in the run up to higher domestic beef supplies.


Canadian beef started to make a come-back on U.S. retail shelves this week. However, much more awaits in a possibly drawn process for Canadian beef imports to resume its previous status.


Imported beef prices in the Korean wholesale market strengthened this week in lieu of Chuseok holiday period. This came unexpected based on past years demand during this time.


Source: Meat & Livestock Australia
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