Australia’s May Beef Exports Record-large, but Shipments to China Sharply Lower


Australia’s beef exports set another new record in May at 108,126 metric tons (mt) – up 5 percent from a year ago and surpassing the previous monthly record (March 2014) by 2 percent. These results are not necessarily great news for the Australian industry, however, as they were driven in part by near-record-high slaughter rates that reflected poor seasonal grazing conditions in Queensland and the northern portion of New South Wales.

On May 8, Australia began requiring that all meat exports destined for China must be “sourced from animals that do not have hormonal growth promotants or contain residues outside normal physiological levels.” The May export results suggest that these new requirements caused a slowdown in Australia’s beef shipments to China, as volume fell 27 percent from a year ago to 8,428 mt – Australia’s lowest export volume to China since January 2013. While still only a fraction of the volume shipped to China, May exports to Hong Kong jumped 116 percent year-over-year to 953 mt.

Despite the lower May results, Australia’s exports to China through the first five months of the year were still up 15 percent from a year ago to 59,623 mt. Other top markets showing significant year-over-year increases included the United States (122,999 mt, +46 percent), South Korea (59,958 mt, +19 percent) and Indonesia (23,679 mt, +88 percent), offsetting lower exports to Japan (107,249 mt, -7 percent). Exports to Russia, which have been suspended since early April, totaled only 1,489 mt – down 82 percent from a year ago.

January-May results in Australia’s smaller markets were mostly higher, including Taiwan (15,914 mt, +14 percent), Canada (12,713 mt, +132 percent), the Philippines (12,281 mt, +19 percent), EU (9,502 mt, 36 percent) and Central/South America (3,567 mt, +4 percent).

Data source: Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry