Airfreight lifeline for red meat exporters during COVID era


Jon Condon, BEEF Central (AU)



Airfreight is providing a lifeline for Australian red meat exporters as COVID-related issues continue to provide logistics challenges for container-based sea freight into some overseas markets.


As Beef Central reported earlier, chronic shipping problems have emerged in recent months due to a shortage of refrigerated containers and shipping vessels themselves, causing long delays and cancellations in some shipping schedules, selective ‘pick-up’ points in Australia, and dramatic rises in shipping costs. All are related to COVID, in one way or another.


Department of Agriculture statistics for the eight months to the end of August show meat exports by air to all destinations totalled 41,900 tonnes. Red meat accounted for three quarters of the trade, with beef shipments accounted for 13,200t of the airfreight total, and lamb/mutton 17,700t.


Biggest destinations were ‘other Asia’ (including China, Singapore etc) accounting for 18,300t, and traditional airfreight market, the collective Middle East markets (Dubai, Saudi, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman etc) on 14,400t.


Surprisingly, the US West Coast was next largest, accounting for 2750t – almost three times the volume of air freight trade seen in the same period in 2019, the last full year prior to COVID. Next were Korea (1650t), Western Europe (1087t), Taiwan (1081t) and Japan (just short of 1000t).


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