China boosts Australian beef and lamb exports

By Carina Perkins

- Last updated on GMT

China boosts Australian beef and lamb exports

Related tags Beef exports Japan International trade European union Beef Lamb Livestock

Australia has seen a jump in beef and lamb exports so far this year, driven partly by expansion into China, market analysts have revealed.

Data from Meat and Livestock Australia revealed that export figures for the first six weeks of 2013 are higher than those recorded during the same period last year, as a result of “ample cattle and lamb turnoff” and an increase in shipments to China.

“A review of beef exports for the first three weeks of February shows China flexing its buying muscle, with beef exports estimated to go close to cracking the 10,000 tonne swt mark,”​ said MLA analysts.

February saw the highest monthly level recorded for Australian beef exports to China. Exports for January and February are expected to reach 14,000 tonnes swt, and analysts said it looked likely that exports for the year would exceed existing forecasts of 35,000 tonnes swt.

“Putting the recent surge in context, prior to 2012 (32,900 tonnes swt), the largest calendar year total to China was only 7,200 tonnes swt,”​ they said.

China also increased Australian lamb import volumes this year, with shipments for February up around 15% year-on-year to nearly 3,600 tonnes swt. This follows on a 39% increase in Australian lamb exports to China last year.
Record EU beef exports

The MLA has also reported record Australian beef shipments to the EU last year, with volumes up 12% on 2012 and value reaching AU$145m.

“The increase in value is largely the result of greater volumes shipped to the market, with 2012 seeing the highest level of beef exports to the EU since 1998, with shipments totalling 14,949 tonnes swt, 16% above the 2011 total,”​ said the analysts.

“The expansion in exports to the EU, despite the delicate economic situation in the region and the strong Australian dollar, illustrate the continued importance of the EU as a high-value market for Australian red meat.”

The EU is a high-value export market for Australian beef on a per tonne basis, with shipments averaging AU$9,000/tonne (GTA). compared to AU$4,860/tonne in Japan and AU$4,500/tonne in the US.

While beef exports reached record volumes last year, shipments of lamb suffered from reduced demand for the product on the EU market. The value of Australian lamb exports was down 22% on 2011 figures to AU$84m, while volumes were down 6%.

“The cut mix of Australian lamb exported to the EU also changed throughout 2012, reflecting the weak consumer confidence situation on the ground, with higher volumes of cheaper product such as shank and manufacturing lamb shipped, at the expense of leg and boneless loin shipments,”​ the analysts said.

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