Red meat exports outperform year-ago levels

In August, Australian beef exports reached 92,080 tonnes – the highest monthly total since June 2020. Meanwhile, sheepmeat exports continued their strong 2022, rising 18% year-on-year to 38,477 tonnes.

Posted on Sep 14 ,04:50

Red meat exports outperform year-ago levels

Beef exports rose in all major markets but increases were especially pronounced in South Korea and China. Overall, beef exports rose 19% year-on-year, while exports to South Korea rose 43% year-on-year and exports to Greater China rose 37% year-on-year. This means that of all total exports:

  • Korea accounted for 20%
  • Greater China accounted for 20%
  • Japan accounted for 24%
  • USA accounted for 17%, and
  • other markets made up the balance.

Much of this increase in beef exports was due to significant growth in grassfed exports.

In recent times, grainfed export volumes have been more stable than grassfed exports. Since 2020, grainfed exports have ranged from 20,000–30,000 tonnes each month (outside of January) while grassfed exports have ranged from 35,000–72,000 tonnes each month.

This means that months with higher export volumes tend to see large increases in grassfed beef volumes, and August displayed that pattern. While grainfed exports rose by 13% year-on-year, grassfed exports rose by 23% to 62,752 tonnes.

At the same time, there was a pronounced shift towards frozen beef over the month. Although higher than July, chilled beef exports fell by 9% year-on-year to 20,400 tonnes, while frozen beef rose by 31% to 71,680 tonnes.

Sheepmeat exports were also strong in August, rising 18% year-on-year to 38,477 tonnes. Lamb exports rose by 13% to 26,196 tonnes, while mutton exports rose by 30% to 12,281 tonnes.

Lamb exports to southeast Asia rose a remarkable 70% to 3,779 tonnes, as Papua New Guinea, Malaysia and Singapore all recorded strong year-on-year increases, Meanwhile, exports to the USA, Greater China and MENA (Middle East and North Africa) fell back slightly. Notably, lamb exports to South Korea rose 169% year-on-year to 2,906 tonnes, despite not being a traditional market for sheepmeat.

Mutton exports were more uniform than its lamb counterpart. Greater China, southeast Asia and MENA all recorded large year-on-year volume increases, with exports to Greater China increasing by 50% year-on-year to 5,923 tonnes and exports to South-East Asia increasing by 59% to 2,219 tonnes. The USA was distinct among major markets, with exports falling 34% year-on-year to 1,395 tonnes – although export growth in Canada and Mexico made up some of that difference in North America.

As the herd rebuild matures, higher export volumes will become more frequent.

At the same time, given the disruption the industry has faced over the past several years, it will take several months of heightened export volumes to determine a trend – despite the high export volumes exhibited in recent weeks.

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