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Record-smashing Australian Beef Exports to China Continue

10 April 2013
Meat & Livestock Australia

AUSTRALIA - Exports of Australian beef to China for March smashed the previous record high of 11,866 tonnes swt in February, reaching 12,320 tonnes swt compared with only 452 tonnes swt just a year ago Meat and Livestock Australia reports on figures released by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

The huge March volume to China exceeded Australian shipments to Korea, placing China as the third largest single exports destination for Australian beef for the past two consecutive months. The total shipment of the first three months of 2013 reached 28,624 tonnes swt.

The majority, 89 per cent, of product shipped to China during March was frozen beef, at 10,963 tonnes swt.

Chilled beef exports to China during March were 1,357 tonnes swt, with the total chilled beef exports for the March quarter of 2013 (3,869 tonnes swt) already exceeding the total chilled beef shipments during 2012 (2,042 tonnes swt).

Manufacturing beef was traditionally one of the most popular Australian cuts shipped to China.

However, the increased exports of a wider range of cuts have led to a decline in the proportion of manufacturing beef out of the overall exports in recent months.

Australian manufacturing beef exports during March halved from the previous month, to 499 tonnes swt, accounting for only four per cent of the monthly volumes. Shipments of manufacturing beef for the March quarter of 2013 finished at 1,884 tonnes swt – 299 per cent above the same period last year, but 57 per cent lower than the December quarter last year.

Despite a five per cent fall in brisket exports during March from the past month, at 1,997 tonnes swt, demand for brisket remained high over the first quarter of 2013, totalling 4,769 tonnes swt – another 3 per cent rise from the December quarter of 2012.

Silverside/outside, thick flank/knuckle and blade exports showed particularly strong growth in recent months. Shipments of silverside/outside during March surged to 1,885 tonnes swt from just eight tonnes in March 2012. Shipments of thick flank/knuckle and blade during March also improved significantly, to 1,240 tonnes swt and 1,189 tonnes swt, respectively.

Additionally, carcase exports also expanded in recent months. While 457 tonnes swt of carcases were shipped during 2012, exports during the first quarter of 2013 totalled 1,807 tonnes swt, with the record monthly trade during March, at 810 tonnes swt.

Australia also exported 6,112 tonnes swt of sheep meat to China during March, up 109 per cent year-on-year according to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry figures released by Meat and Livestock Australia.

The very large March result contributed to the total volume of the first quarter of 2013 reaching 19,973 tones swt – 140 per cent higher than the same period last year.

Lamb exports to China during March increased 13 per cent year-on-year, to 2,711 tonnes swt. This monthly volume had China exceeding the US for the first time on record and placed China as the largest single export destination for Australian lamb in March. Monthly mutton shipments surpassed 3,000 tonnes swt for the third consecutive month, with the March volume alone increasing 554 per cent year-on-year, to 3,401 tonnes swt.

Australian mutton exports for the first quarter of 2013 have already accounted for more than two-thirds of last year’s total, at 11,156 tonnes swt.

In terms of the cuts shipped to China in March, breast & flap remained the most popular cut, at 3,006 tonnes swt. Interestingly, lamb manufacturing exports during March were down 10 per cent year-on-year, to 492 tonnes swt. However, a 723 per cent year-on-year rise in lamb shoulder exports (to 288 tonnes swt from 35 tonnes swt in March 2012) assisted monthly export volumes. Mutton carcase exports during March also remained strong, at 1,242 tonnes swt - up from just 17 tonnes swt in March last year.

As Australian beef exports to China surge to unprecedented levels in March, shipments to the remainder of South Asia were down four per cent year-on-year, totalling 10,026 tonnes swt.

Exports to Hong Kong during March dropped substantially – down 37 per cent year-on-year, to 379 tonnes swt. Exports to Taiwan also decreased, down 22 per cent year-on-year, to 2,495 tonnes swt, largely due to the increased global competition (reportedly from China) for cuts, such as blade (down 51 per cent year-on-year, to 379 tonnes swt) and thick flank/knuckle (down 54 per cent year-on-year, to 136 tonnes swt). Trade to Malaysia and Singapore slowed during March, with monthly volumes down 16 per cent year-on-year, to 993 tonnes swt and 15 per cent to 732 tonnes swt, respectively. Shipments to Thailand during March contracted 21 per cent year-on-year, to 477 tonnes swt.

However, MLA said that an improvement in exports to Indonesia was positive news in March, with the monthly shipments totaling 3,005 tonnes swt – 24 per cent higher than March 2012 and 45 per cent above February 2013.

While manufacturing beef remained the major cut shipped to Indonesia during the month (up 133 per cent year-on-year, to 2,168 tonnes swt), demand for striploin and cube roll/rib eye roll increased to 207 tonnes swt and 51 tonnes swt. Exports to the Philippines during March continued at a steady rate, rising 23 per cent year-on-year, to 1,706 tonnes swt.

After experiencing year-on-year declines for the past four months, exports to Viet Nam improved 44 per cent year-on-year, to 239 tonnes swt.

Australian sheepmeat exports to South Asia during March increased 11 per cent year-on-year, totalling 3,518 tonnes swt. Strong demand for mutton (up 23 per cent, to 2,199 tonnes swt) offset a 4 per cent year-on-year decline in lamb exports (1,318 tonnes swt).

Malaysia was the largest market for Australian mutton during the month, taking 1,021 tonnes swt – the highest monthly volume since March 2010 (1,063 tonnes swt).

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