October 9, 2023


Australia's September beef exports hit 98,713 tonnes



Australia's beef exports in September have reached 98,713 tonnes.


Rates of adult cattle slaughter have continued to climb since July, driven mostly by rapidly deteriorating seasonal conditions forcing more cattle to market.


September's export trade was more than 28,000 tonnes or 40% higher than this time last year when the Australian beef herd rebuilding phase post-drought was still limiting production volume.


The recent July-September export growth trend was reflected in the higher rates of weekly beef slaughter, as producers under drought pressure continue to push large volumes of cattle to slaughter. The past four weeks of national beef kills have averaged more than 126,000 head, easily the most productive period for the year so far.


Calendar year to the end of September, Australian beef exports have now reached 776,749 tonnes, almost 141,000 tonnes or 22% higher than the same nine months last year.


At the current rate, total Australian beef exports this calendar year might finish around 950,000 tonnes, earlier trade history suggests.


For the fourth month in succession, Australia's beef exports to the United States again headlined export results, with shipments to east and west coast US ports topping 24,430 tonnes, down 5% from August's exceptional result, but more than and 15,000 tonnes or 184% higher than September last year.


Thw dramatic change is due to the rapid decline in beef production in the US this year (and last year's corresponding heavy liquidation), as the country begins its herd rebuilding phase after a prolonged drought.


Heavier cow kills in Australia are also contributing to the trend, with more than 75% of Australia's September trade into the US made on frozen boneless (mostly trimmings).


June was the first month in at least three years where the US featured as Australia's largest volume export customer, having placed third or fourth behind Japan, China and South Korea for long periods since 2020.


For the calendar year to the end of September, Australia's exports to the US have totalled 163,141 tonnes, up almost 70,000 tonnes or 73% from the same eight months last year.


The US is likely to bid Australian manufacturing beef business away from other import competitors in the months to come, as US beef production continues to slow, meat traders suggested.


China slipped past both Japan and South Korea to become Australia's second largest customer by volume last month. The country accounted for 19,051 tonnes in September, up 11% on August shipments, and more than 4,100 tonnes or 28% higher than this time last year.


For the calendar year to date, China has now taken 151,910 tonnes of Australian beef – mostly in frozen form – almost 35,000 tonnes or 30% more than last year.


Part of the reason for this year's jump was the impact from Brazil's earlier temporary suspension in trade into China after the detection of an atypical case of BSE in Brazil in March. Australian beef was used to partially fill the void, in the absence of much larger Brazilian shipments until May.


South Korea edged past Japan in beef trade volume again in September, accounting for 16,463 tonnes, down a little on the previous month, but about 2800 tonnes or 21% higher than September last year.


Calendar year to date, South Korean volume has reached 137,847 tonnes, 16% higher than last year, as available Australian production volume has grown.


Japan was Australia's fourth largest offshore beef customer behind China, South Korea and the US last month, taking 16,276 tonnes down marginally on the previous month but 3% higher than September last year. For the first nine months of trade in 2023, volume to Japan has reached 153,368 tonnes, down 7% on last year. Reports continue to circulate of large quantities of beef in cold storage inventory in Japan.


Among smaller and emerging markets, trade into Indonesia continued strongly last month, accounting for 6,055 tonnes of Australian beef. While that was well down on the extraordinary figure of 7,836 tonnes the previous month, it was close to double the volume seen this time last year.


Nine-month trade to Indonesia has now reached 52,076 tonnes – more than 22,000 tonnes or 76% higher than this nine-month period last year. Australia has not exported more boxed beef to Indonesia, year-to-date, since 2015.


 - Beef Central

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