AUSTRALIA - May 2014 continued the unprecedented run of Australia’s beef exports over the past 12 months, reaching a record high 108,126 tonnes – surpassing the previous record set only two months earlier, at 106,297 tonnes, according to analysts at Meat and Livestock Australia.
The record run of shipments was facilitated by near record high slaughter and production levels, largely due to the very poor seasonal conditions throughout northern NSW and Queensland.
Seasonal slaughter across the southern states has also been very high, despite an excellent autumn break.
However, even with the very high volumes from Australian beef processors throughout May, export markets continued to readily absorb the additional product.
At 108,126 tonnes, beef exports for May were five per cent above May 2013 levels – which at 103,208 tonnes, was the record high monthly volume at the time (prior to May 2013, the all-time high was November 2006, at 94,695 tonnes).
The US was again the largest market, taking 31,054 tonnes – an increase of 58 per cent on the corresponding period last year and the highest monthly volume to the US since March 2009.
With very high imported beef prices helping to attract additional Australian beef to the US, exports for January to May are up 46 per cent on the same period last year, totalling 123,608 tonnes– establishing it as Australia’s largest export beef market so far in 2014, some 16,300 tonnes ahead of Japan.
With a combination of strong competition from other markets for Australian beef – especially the US, Korea and China – Australian beef exports to Japan for May totalled 26,245 tonnes, a decline of 14 per cent from May 2013.
However, it should be noted that May 2013 was a seasonal peak, with the 26,245 tonnes swt sent in May 2014 the largest monthly volume in 10 months.
The Korean market continued to track along steadily in May, receiving 12,547 tonnes – up one per cent on the corresponding period last year.
The Korean market’s consistency has been a feature so far in 2014, with four consecutive months of exports exceeding 12,000 tonnes.
January to May, exports to Korea have increased 19 per cent on last year, to 59,958 tonnes.
One market to register a year-on-year decline in exports for May was China, down 27 per cent year-on-year, at 8,427 tonnes.
However, the result for May needs to be kept in context of the rapid growth that has been registered in exports to China in the past two years – as it was only in 2011 when the entire shipments for the calendar year reached just 7,752 tonnes.
Contributing to the decline in May was a combination of competition from other markets, along with issues surrounding import protocols for Australian beef.
Other Asian markets to register strong volumes in May included Indonesia, which jumped 67 per cent year-on-year, to 6,029 tonnes, Taiwan (up nine per cent, to 4,284 tonnes) and Hong Kong (up 115 per cent, to 953 tonnes).
Exports to the EU for May reached 2,104 tonnes, up five per cent year-on-year, which took exports for the first five months of 2014 to 9,550 tonnes – 35 per cent above 2013 and almost double 2012 levels.
The Middle East also continues to consolidate its role as a major market for Australian beef, receiving 6,298 tonnes in May – one per cent above the corresponding period last year, with January to May volumes five per cent up, at 26,563 tonnes.
TheMeatSite News Desk