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Australia’s Beef Exports Remain Strong Through October

China now accounts for 14 percent of Australia’s beef export volume, compared to just 2 percent in 2012

China now accounts for 14 percent of Australia’s beef export volume, compared to just 2 percent in 2012

Australia’s beef exports were near record levels again in October, with chilled/frozen volume totaling 104,074 mt, up 11 percent from 2012 and the second-highest monthly total this year (trailing only the 106,000 mt exported in July). China continued to lead export growth, taking a record 16,710 mt, up 122 percent from last year. Australia’s chilled beef exports have been set back by the ban announced by China in August, but it appears importers have mostly shifted to frozen Australian beef rather than to beef from other suppliers. Australia’s October exports were also larger to the United States, the Middle East, Indonesia, Russia and the EU, but lower for Japan, Korea, and Taiwan.

For January through October, chilled/frozen beef exports were up 15 percent to 902,961 mt, but exports to Japan (240,907 mt), U.S. (176,560 mt) and Taiwan (29,384 mt) were each down 6 percent. Exports to Russia (25,974 mt, -19 percent) and Central/South America (8,459 mt, -52 percent) were lower as well. Besides the remarkable growth to China, exports were larger for Korea (113,215 mt, +17 percent), the Middle East (53,044 mt, +109 percent), Indonesia (28,573 mt, +28 percent), the Philippines (21,840 mt, +9 percent) and the EU (16,816 mt, +39 percent).

Most of Australia’s export growth has come on the frozen side, essentially matching the increase in beef production due to ongoing drought-induced herd liquidation. Australia’s total chilled exports for October were down 10 percent to 22,032 mt, reflecting zero for China and smaller exports to Japan and Korea. For January through October, chilled exports were up 2 percent to 216,188 mt, with smaller volumes to Japan (94,880 mt, -12 percent), Korea (25,484 mt, -3 percent), Central/South America (mostly Chile, 5,202 mt, -62 percent) and Taiwan (3,100 mt, -41 percent). Offsetting these declines were larger chilled exports for the U.S. (29,209 mt, +9 percent), EU (15,483 mt, +50 percent), Middle East (14,326 mt, +93 percent) and China (shipped prior to the August ban — 12,212 mt, +977 percent).

With continued large slaughter numbers, Australia’s cattle prices remain 12 percent lower than last year at $1.36 per pound, carcass basis. Combined with the weaker Aussie dollar, this has helped Australia’s competitiveness.