Tough Export Conditions Hit Beef Shipments

AUSTRALIA - Australian beef and veal export volumes for July clearly illustrate the very tough trading conditions facing Australian exporters at the moment, declining 11 per cent year-on-year, to 79,377 tonnes swt - the lowest July total since 2007, reports Meat and Livestock Australia.
calendar icon 2 August 2011
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Meat & Livestock Australia

Exports declined year-on-year to all of the three major export markets, while some improvement was registered to Indonesia, Taiwan, the EU and the Middle East.

Contributing to the decline in shipments for the month was the lower cattle throughput and beef production, as export processors opted to reduce operations in response to the very tough export situation. According to MLA's National Livestock Reporting Service, average weekly cattle slaughter in Queensland for July declined 12.6 per cent year-on-year - the lowest weekly average since 2003.

The headline figure for the past month was the 28 per cent year-on-year contraction in shipments to Japan, to 23,274 tonnes swt, as a range of factors combined to subdue demand for Australian product. The combination of the high A$, increased competition from the US (on the back of the weak US$), sluggish chilled beef demand and food safety concerns all influenced demand, with the monthly year-on-year decline in Australian exports the largest since June 2002.

While Australian beef and veal exports to Korea declined three per cent year-on-year, to 11,544 tonnes swt, it was still the highest monthly volume since March. The Korean beef market continues to take additional volumes of Australian and US beef in 2011, despite reports of high stocks and falling Hanwoo beef prices. For the first seven months of 2011, Australian shipments to Korea were up 21 per cent year-on-year, at 84,867 tonnes swt.

The US market continues to take reduced volumes of Australian beef, as the high A$ significantly erodes historically high imported US beef prices. For July, Australian shipments totalled 15,753 tonnes swt - down 24 per cent year-on-year.

The main growth market for Australian beef for July was Indonesia, with volumes increasing 20 per cent year-on-year, to 6,218 tonnes swt. Beef shipments to Indonesia have picked up since May, following a very slow start to the year, with exports for the first seven months of 2011 10 per cent below the corresponding period in 2010, at 21,816 tonnes swt.

Other markets to record a year-on-year increase in shipments for July included the EU (up 66 per cent, to 1,348 tonnes swt), the Middle East (up 49 per cent, to 3,068 tonnes swt) and Taiwan (up four per cent, to 2,943 tonnes swt).

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