July exports struggle to find traction

Jon Condon, 02/08/2012

Australia’s monthly beef exports lifted only marginally in July, under the weight of a resurgent A$ and subdued demand into key export markets.

Influences outside Australia, including the continuing Global Financial Crisis, drought across North America, currency movements and trade access issues exerted the biggest influence over monthly export performance.

Total July exports reached 82,514 tonnes, barely 1000 tonnes better than June, but up almost 4pc on July figures last year (79,377t).

The year-on-year improvement can be attributed almost entirely to a lift in trade to the US, which was approaching its low-point in Australian imports this time in 2011.

Australia’s calendar year to date exports reached 532,168t by July 31, only slightly better than January-July last year (529,940t). That figure is likely to gather pace during the back-end of the year, according

to Meat and Livestock Australia’s recent half-year projections.

Among Australia’s big three export markets – US, Japan and Korea – results for July were mixed.

July shipments to the US reached 17,105 tonnes, down 1.6pc from June, but almost 8pc better than July last year, during the depths of the decline in manufacturing beef exports to the US because of the high US cow kill caused by drought.

Volumes to Japan for July reached 31,028t, only a few hundred tonnes better than June, but a 33pc improved from July last year when Japan was still reeling from its earlier triple natural disasters.

Calendar Year to date, Japan has taken 181,896t, still down 4.5pc on the equivalent period last year.

Korea took 9553t of Australian beef for July, up from 8888t in June, but well back from 11,544t recorded for July last year. Year to date, Australia’s exports to Korea have reached 59,311t, a big decline from 84,867t recorded last year.

In smaller markets last month:

  • Total exports to the EU reached 1330t for July, well down on 1633t in June, but similar to volumes sent this time last year.
  • Exports to Russia reached 2422t, a big slump on June trade of 4183t and 4041t recorded in July last year. The return of larger volumes of Brazilian beef to Russia is a contributing factor.
  • Trade to Indonesia in July reached 3174t, a little improved on 2753t in June due to import quota access relief, but a long way from the 6218t trade recorded for July last year.
  • Total Middle East exports reac hed 2213t, down from 2622t a month earlier, and 3048t in July 2011.

For the past fiscal year, Australian beef exports to markets other than the “big three” (Japan US and Korea) made up 31pc of all exports – much the same as in 2010-11, but dramatically higher than the 7.6pc recorded back in 2004-05, when exports were alarmingly concentrated. Indeed, in combination, the ‘other’ markets took a record 294,437t for the past fiscal year – within about 30,000t of volumes taken by the biggest single market, Japan.



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