Slowdown Continues for Australia’s Beef Exports


Australia’s September beef exports totaled 101,521 metric tons (mt), down 14 percent from last year’s large volume, reflecting lower slaughter levels and rising beef prices. Through the first three quarters of the year, Australia’s exports were up 4 percent to 974,622 mt.

Exports finally slowed to the United States in September (29,317 mt, -38 percent), as Australia filled 85 percent of its duty-free quota by the end of August, triggering an export license management system. But January-September exports to the U.S. remained on a record pace, up 24 percent from a year ago to 339,243 mt.

Results in the Asian markets were mixed, with exports to Japan trending lower in September (24,511 mt, -8 percent). January-September exports to Japan were 211,998 mt, roughly even with last year’s volume despite tariff reductions that began in January and the weak Australian dollar.

South Korea continued to be a strong market in September (13,288 mt, +17 percent). For the first three quarters of the year, exports to Korea were up 9 percent to 119,133 mt.


September exports to China were higher than a year ago (11,899 mt, +36 percent), but the lowest since February. January-September exports to China were up 10 percent to 106,595 mt.

January-September exports were lower for Indonesia (25,008 mt, -38 percent), with market access restrictions limiting volumes from all suppliers, and Taiwan (22,004 mt, -21 percent) as U.S. beef continues to gain market share.

Exports to the Middle East improved in September (5,106 mt, +24 percent), reflecting strong growth to Saudi Arabia, but the region is still down for the year (40,854 mt, -13 percent).

Exports to the European Union were higher in September (2,017 mt, +8 percent) but still lower for the year (17,935 mt, -5 percent). Australia continues to grow its exports under the EU’s duty-free high-quality beef quota while shipping smaller grass-fed volumes under its Hilton quota.

Partly reflecting the recent dramatic slide in U.S. beef and cattle prices, Australia’s cattle indicator price dropped this week to A$5.66/kg, the lowest since August but still up 54 percent from a year ago. In U.S. dollars, prices averaged $1.85/lb, up 28 percent year-over-year.

Data sources: Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry; Meat & Livestock Australia