September beef exports continue at solid pace, led by China


Jon Condon, BEEF Central (Australia) 

October 2, 2019


NEW record volumes to China, and expanding shipments to South Korea and Japan underpinned Australian beef exports during September, which continued at solid pace due to drought-forced livestock turnoff.


Total volume to all offshore markets reached 105,372 tonnes last month, just 960t or one percent below August trade.


For the third consecutive month, China retained its crown as Australia’s single largest beef export customer by volume.


Trade results released by the Department of Agriculture yesterday show that chilled and frozen volume to China last month reached 28,547t – almost 2500t or 9pc higher than August – remaining well ahead of shipments to either Japan or the United States.


The vast void in meat protein supply in China caused by African Swine Fever is now exerting considerable impact on Australian beef trade flows, and shows no sign of abating. At current rates of growth, trade could soon exceed 30,000t in a single month – figures unseen apart from rare occasions in the past into the US.


Last month’s shipments to China were 12pc higher than this time last year, when trade first started to take-off, and have been unaffected by the rise in tariffs from 6pc to 12pc for the remainder of the year, as a result of the triggering of the Safeguard tariff mechanism on August 17.


Market participants say China will now start building stocks for the high demand Chinese New Year period in late January, suggesting volume may grow further in coming months.


Year-to-date performance


For the calendar year to the end of September, export beef trade to all markets out of Australia has reached almost 896,000t, about 55,000t or 6pc higher than the same nine-month period last year, as the drought impact continues.


China trade for the calendar year to date has now reached 200,853t of Australian beef, a dramatic 72pc rise on the same nine-month period last year. It has accounted for almost 23pc of all Australian exports so far in 2019.


Underpinning Chinese demand for Australian beef has been the impact of African Swine Fever on the domestic Chinese pig population, pushing importers and Chinese consumers towards alternate proteins, including beef; the Chinese government clampdown this year on the illegal grey-trade in beef arriving through neighbouring Vietnam and Hong Kong; and the general increase in demand for beef among middle-class and more affluent Chinese consumers.


Japan trade lifts slightly ...


US trade slows ...


Small lift in South Korea ...


Other markets ...