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China’s June Beef Imports Lower than a Year Ago

Chart comparing China's Beef & Variety Meat Exports monthly from January 2011 through June 2014 in Metric Tons

As China prepares to resume imports of Brazilian beef, its June shipments from other suppliers declined year-over-year for the first time since China began importing large volumes in the fall of 2012. June beef/beef variety meat imports totaled 25,905 metric tons (mt), down 3 percent from a year ago and the smallest volume since February. June imports declined from both Australia (8,952 mt, -20 percent) and New Zealand (4,186 mt, -33 percent), as Uruguay (9,338 mt, +31 percent) surpassed Australia as the largest supplier for the month. Australia’s beef exports to China have slowed considerably since hormone-free requirements were implemented May 8.

For the first half of 2014, China’s beef/bvm imports were still up 24 percent year-over-year to 167,009 mt. First-half volumes were larger from Australia (80,663 mt, +28 percent), Uruguay (46,788 mt, +29 percent), New Zealand (24,961 mt, +9 percent) and Argentina (6,235 mt, +143 percent). First-half imports were smaller from Canada (7,869 mt, -22 percent) despite a strong performance in June (2,283 mt, +27 percent).

According to World Beef Report, Brazil’s minister of agriculture is projecting exports to China to reach $800 million to $1.2 billion in 2015. But Brazil is already the largest beef supplier in the Greater China region, and even before China closed to Brazilian beef (in December 2012) most of Brazil’s exports to the region were bound for Hong Kong. However, the market has changed dramatically since that time so it will be interesting to see how quickly Brazil’s direct shipments gain traction in China.

Import data source: Global Trade Atlas