Australia’s chilled/frozen beef exports in March surged 21 percent higher than a year ago to 106,297 metric tons (mt), as drought-induced herd liquidation continued. The United States (29,926 mt, +66 percent) was the top destination, with high prices for lean beef and a stronger U.S. dollar helping drive volume higher. Exports to China (14,152 mt, +15 percent) and South Korea (12,800 mt, +14 percent) were also higher while exports to Japan (22,613 mt, -7 percent) declined from a year ago.
March exports to most of Australia’s smaller markets were higher year-over-year, including the Middle East (5,618 mt, +15 percent), Indonesia (3,046 mt, +1 percent), Taiwan (3,155 mt, +26 percent), Canada (2,972 mt, +78 percent), the Philippines (2,754 mt, +61 percent), the European Union (2,224, +49 percent) and Hong Kong (505 mt, +33 percent). Exports to Central/South America were steady at 787 mt.
A crackdown on the growth promotant trenbolone impacted March exports to Russia, with volume down 63 percent from a year ago to 549 mt. Russia had delisted some Australian plants earlier this year, but all chilled beef imports from Australia were suspended on March 31 and frozen imports were suspended with an effective shipping date of April 7.
Chilled exports were up 9 percent to 24,888 mt, as growth to the U.S. (5,006 mt, +111 percent) helped offset lower volumes to Japan (10,777 mt, -7 percent). Chilled exports were also larger for the European Union (2,128 mt, +52 percent), Korea (2,664 mt, +5 percent) and the Middle East (1,837 mt, +29 percent). China suspended chilled beef imports from Australia in late August, and the market remains closed.
Australia’s cattle prices averaged $2.90 per kilogram in March, down 11 percent from a year ago, reflecting the drought situation. But prices have recently been rebounding as grazing conditions improve following more than a year of herd liquidation. The weaker Australian dollar, which year-over-year was down an average of 14 percent in March against the U.S. dollar, has accounted for the lower prices in U.S. dollar terms and has helped boost Australia’s exports.
Data sources: Australia Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and World Beef Report