Australian Beef Exports Finish 2011 Higher

AUSTRALIA - Despite 2011 being a year marked by unprecedented events in key beef export markets, Australia’s beef and veal shipments increased three per cent for the year, totalling 949,195 tonnes swt (Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF)), reports Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA).
calendar icon 10 January 2012
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Meat & Livestock Australia

MLA reports that, surpassing the 922,833 tonnes swt registered for the full 2010 calendar year, and falling just short of shipments in 2006 and 2008, Australia’s beef and veal shipments finished the year at a rapid pace. November’s shipments were the highest in three years, while the year concluded with a record December volume of 82,054 tonnes swt.

For Australian beef exports in 2011 to have exceeded 2010 levels by three per cent reflected the very strong underlying global demand for Australian beef, considering the issues faced for exporters throughout the year. An A$ averaging 103US¢, and hitting 110US¢ twice throughout the year, created a significant headwind for Australian exporters, while the ongoing global economic turmoil created demand concerns in many advanced beef markets.

For Australia’s largest beef export market, Japan, the natural disasters in March devastated the economy, impacting demand for Australian beef for the remainder of the year. For 2011, Australia’s beef exports to Japan totalled 342,189 tonnes swt – down four per cent on the previous year. Additionally, Australian product faced increased competition from US beef in the Japanese market, as the strong A$ contrasted with the very weak US currency. However, despite all of these issues, Japan remains Australia’s largest beef export market by a large distance, taking 36 per cent of all beef exports for the year, and more than double the next largest market (the US).

Australian beef and veal exports to the US in 2011 totalled 167,820 tonnes swt – down nine per cent on the previous year and the lowest calendar year volume for several decades. In contrast, the Korean market expanded again in 2011, rising 18 per cent on 2010, to 146,347 tonnes swt – falling just short of the record 149,663 tonnes swt shipped in 2006.

MLA states that undoubtedly, the stars of the 2011 export year were the smaller, non-traditional markets, which offset (or even contributed to) the lower volumes to Japan and the US. Russia, the Middle East and South East Asia were the main contributors to the increase in total exports for the year, with rises also witnessed to more traditional markets of the EU and Canada.

Traditionally dominated by the big two markets of Japan and the US, Australian beef exports to all “other” markets (including Korea) increased 15 per cent year-on-year, offsetting a six per cent decline to Japan and the US combined.

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