Ongoing and severe drought, particularly in Queensland and the Northern Territory, drove Australian cattle to slaughter at the highest level since 1978, according to Tim McRae, market information and analysis manager for producer organisation Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA). “Strong demand from China, the Middle East, South Korea and south-east Asia helped to accommodate the additional beef produced throughout 2013,” McRae told Globalmeatnews.com.
Important of Asia
Australian beef and veal exports to China leapt almost fivefold, from 32,906t in 2012 to 154,833t in 2013, with an increase of almost 15% to 144,364t for South Korea, offsetting losses of nearly 30,000t in the Japanese market. While exports to Japan slumped from 308,538t in 2012 to 288,794t in 2013, it remained Australia’s largest single export market in this segment.
The Middle East market nearly doubled from 31,313t in 2012 to 60,993t in 2013. This was driven by strong growth in Saudi Arabia, where a ban imposed on Brazilian beef in 2012 has allowed Australia to increase its exports almost sixfold from 5,241t in 2012 to 31,126t in 2013.
McRae said he anticipated “some of the demand will be retained [through 2014], but overall performance will be largely influenced by access conditions for Brazilian beef”.
Demand for top cuts
Sheldon Mumby, spokesman for the Pastoralists and Graziers Association of Western Australia, said a change in traditional diets in both China and the Middle East had also increased demand for top cuts and the ‘clean, green’ meat for which Australia is renowned internationally. “Years ago, we were exporting the lower-quality cuts to these countries, but that is no longer the case,” he told Globalmeatnews.com.
Despite concerns that Australia’s beef industry would suffer from a diplomatic rift with Indonesia over spying scandals, this has not proved to be the case, and overall beef and veal exports grew from 27,097t in 2012 to 39,418t in 2013.