Australia’s First-quarter Beef Exports Record-large

Australia’s chilled/frozen beef exports set another monthly record in March, increasing 16 percent from a year ago to 123,464 metric tons (mt). Growth was led by large increases for the United States (41,832 mt, +40 percent) and Canada (4,619 mt, +55 percent) but exports were also larger for Japan (28,074 mt, +24 percent) and South Korea (14,681 mt, +15 percent).

First-quarter exports totaled 296,428 mt, up 8 percent from last year’s record pace and still reflecting drought-induced large slaughter levels. Top destinations were the U.S. (105,140 mt, +56 percent), Japan (67,886 mt, +13 percent), Korea (34,342 mt, -3 percent) and China (27,226 mt, -27 percent). Exports to Canada increased 33 percent to 10,609 mt.


From January 15 through March 31, Australian beef entering Japan qualified for the initial round reduced duty rates under the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement – 32.5 percent for chilled beef and 30.5 percent for frozen. The second round of reductions took effect April 1, further lowering these duties to 31.5 percent and 28.5 percent, respectively. Imports from the U.S. and other suppliers remain subject to a 38.5 percent duty.

When China’s beef imports began to surge in the second half of 2012, Australia was its dominant supplier. In 2013, Australia captured 52 percent of China’s imported beef market, with Uruguay a distant second at 25 percent. But Australia’s market share declined after China began enforcing its hormone ban in May 2014, requiring documentation that Australian beef was derived from non-hormone-treated cattle. In the first two months of 2015, Uruguay and Australia each captured about 35 percent of China’s imported beef market.

Data sources: Australia’s Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry and Global Trade Atlas