Global beef exports in 2015 declined by 5 percent to about 7.3 million metric tons (mt), the first year-over-year decline since 2009.
After racing to a record pace in the first half of the year, Australia’s exports slowed significantly and finished slightly below 2014 at 1.485 million metric tons (mt). Exports were bolstered by the weak Australian dollar, which was down an average of 17 percent versus the U.S. dollar last year. Exports to the United States were record-large at 423,113 mt, up 6 percent from a year ago. Shipments also increased to South Korea (201,841 mt, +13 percent), China (159,132 mt, +17 percent, just short of the 2013 record) and Canada (43,361 mt, +35 percent). Exports declined year-over-year to Japan (306,619 mt, -2 percent) and Taiwan (32,747 mt, -19 percent).
For the world’s other three large exporters, the year-over-year declines were substantial, including India (estimated at 1.29 million mt, -15 percent), Brazil (1.315 million mt, -11 percent) and the United States (1.067 million mt, -11 percent). We detailed 2015 U.S. beef export results in the Feb. 12 Export Newsline.
India saw sharp declines in exports to Vietnam and Egypt. Volumes were also lower to most other major markets, with the exception of Malaysia. Exports increased to Iraq and Kuwait.
Brazil’s exports were hit hard by economic struggles in two of its major markets. Although Brazil is still Russia’s largest beef supplier, exports to Russia fell 44 percent to 175,813 mt. Exports also fell sharply to Venezuela. Brazilian beef’s midyear reentry to China resulted in 97,535 mt of exports, but this was somewhat offset by lower exports to Brazil’s top market, Hong Kong (242,585 mt, -31 percent). Exports increased substantially to Egypt and Iran.
Exports from Paraguay (299,930 mt, -3 percent) and Argentina (232,824 mt, -4 percent) edged lower in 2015, with both countries hit by decreased Russian buying. But Argentina’s exports nearly doubled to China (40,806 mt) and the industry has renewed optimism due to its new president’s pro-export policies implemented in December.
Year-over-year increases from smaller exporters, including the European Union (+18 percent), New Zealand (+10 percent), Mexico (+18 percent), Uruguay (+2 percent) and Canada (+2 percent) were not enough to fully offset the declines posted by major suppliers.
On the importing side, growth was scarce and came mainly from the United States (+14 percent). Other markets posting increases included South Korea (+5 percent), Singapore (+34 percent), Malaysia (+8 percent) and the Ivory Coast (+13 percent). The biggest import declines were in Russia (-31 percent), Venezuela (-78 percent) and Indonesia (-50 percent). The following countries also each saw declines of at least 20,000 mt last year: Mexico, Iran, Japan, Chile and Egypt. Various factors impacted last year’s import demand, including lower oil prices contributing to sluggish economies and currencies, market access restrictions and large imported inventories accumulated in 2014.
Sources: Global Trade Atlas and USMEF estimates