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Australia’s June Beef Exports Still Very Large despite Lower Shipments to China

In June, Australia’s beef exports to China declined year-over-year for the second consecutive month

In June, Australia’s beef exports to China declined year-over-year for the second consecutive month

Australia’s chilled/frozen beef exports maintained their red-hot pace in June at 103,257 metric tons (mt), up 18 percent from a year ago and pushing the first half total to 584,500 mt (+17 percent). Export growth was led by the United States in June (29,910 mt, +86 percent) and in the first half (152,909 mt, +53 percent). June volumes were also strong for Korea, Indonesia, Taiwan, Canada, the EU and Hong Kong. Exports to number No. 2 market Japan were down in June (24,826 mt, -2 percent) and in the first half (132,075 mt, -6 percent) as U.S. beef continues to capture additional market share in Japan.

For the second consecutive month, Australia’s exports to China fell below year-ago levels, down 21 percent to 8,406 mt. This at least partially reflects the new hormone-free requirements that were implemented by Australia in early May. For the first half of 2014, exports to China were still up 9 percent from a year ago to 68,029 mt.

Australia recently received some positive market access news regarding beef exports to China. Effective June 30, China reinstated 10 Australian plants as eligible suppliers of chilled beef. Australia lost access to China for chilled beef in late August 2013, so the product has been absent from the market for about 10 months. After taking off in February 2013, Australia’s chilled beef exports to China were averaging about 1,600 mt per month prior to the suspension.

The news received a mixed reaction from the Australian industry, with trade publication Beef Central noting, “Certainly there is no doubt that the 10 plants currently listed were significant exporters of chilled product, prior to the suspension in trade. Having said that, there are some obvious omissions from the list, of companies that previously engaged heavily in the chilled trade into China.”

Data source: Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry