Sluggish April for Australian Beef Shipments

AUSTRALIA - Australian beef and veal exports declined three per cent year-on-year during April, to 71,937 tonnes swt, as global markets experienced a sluggish demand period and Australian beef production was constrained by a series of public holiday shortened weeks (Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry), reports Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA).
calendar icon 1 May 2012
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Meat & Livestock Australia

Continuing the trend of previous months, the US remained the bright spot for beef exports, while both Japan and Korea reported another year-on-year decline in monthly shipments.

Despite a six per cent year-on-year decline in exports to Japan for the month, at 24,692 tonnes swt, Japan recaptured the mantle of Australia’s largest beef export market in April, after being surpassed by the US in March. Trading conditions for Australian exporters remained very tough in April, with the combination of sluggish consumer demand in Japan and increased US competition (assisted by their weak currency) in the market continuing to be reflected in reduced shipments.

Exports to the US in April jumped 45 per cent year-on-year, to 19,154 tonnes swt, as historically high manufacturing beef returns continued to see Australian exporters looking to the US. During April, the indicative imported 90CL price for Australian beef to the US averaged three per cent above the corresponding month in 2011, and 18% above the five-year average, at an April record high of 408.8A¢/kg FAS. Indeed, for the first four months of 2012, the indicative 90CL price averaged 406A¢/kg FAS, up 17 per cent on the five-year average, while beef exports increased 67.5 per cent on 2011 levels.

High Korean beef production, combined with increased competition from the US, continued to negatively influence demand for Australian product during April. Exports for the month totalled 7,542 tonnes swt – down 31 per cent year-on-year and the lowest April total since 2007.

Along with the US, the only other major markets to register a year-on-year increase during April were the EU (up nine per cent, to 1,431 tonnes swt), the Middle East (up four per cent, to 2,260 tonnes swt) and Taiwan (up 38 per cent, to 3,468 tonnes swt). Additionally, exports to Indonesia for April increased 80 per cent year-on-year, to 1,391 tonnes swt – although this is second lowest monthly total for the past year.

Australian beef exports also totalled 4,470 tonnes swt to the Commonwealth of Independent States (mostly Russia) and, while this was 36 per cent below April 2011, it was the highest monthly volume in seven months.

After a relatively fast start to the year, Australian beef shipments for the first four months of 2012 have slowed to be only 0.5 per cent above the corresponding period in 2011, at 281,182 tonnes swt.

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