November beef exports approach 90,000t

Jon Condon, 05/12/2011

A lift in trade into the US and Japan, favourable currency movements and higher processing throughput has combined to lift Australia’s beef exports during November to a three-year monthly record.

Total November beef exports reached just short of 90,000 tonnes, DAFF records released on Friday show.

The figure was up 1.3 percent year-on-year, representing the largest monthly volume since October 2008, when Australia exported 93,872t.

The November output takes Australia’s 11-month year-to-date exports to 867,140t, 3pc above the same period in 2010.

Assisting the higher volume for November was a period of strong beef production for the preceding six weeks. Exports were on track to be one of the highest months on record after the first 10 days of November, however trade then slowed as a result a gradual reduction in available cattle during the final three weeks of the month. MLA records show the all-time highest monthly total was 94,600t set in November 2006.


Japan totals stronger

November shipments to Japan, at 33,519t, were the highest since the same month last year (36,050t), and close to the November average for the past five years. Steady demand from the fast food and processing sectors is again underpinning demand for frozen grassfed beef (17,245t), which increased 5pc year-on-year.

As expected the Japanese economy has rebounded after the September quarter, ending the recent recession thanks to the impact of the early reconstruction efforts after March’s devastating earthquake and tsunami. A survey on household spending conducted by Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs showed that the volume of beef purchased was up 2.9pc in October from the previous month, and 4pc on October last year.

While the lower A$ may have assisted Japanese demand for Australian chilled grainfed beef during November, with volumes increasing 17pc on the previous month to 9099t, shipments where still down 5pc year-on-year.

Calendar year to date, our total export to Japan have reached 312,000t, down 4.5pc from 327,000t for the same period last year.


US trade lifts, but off a low base

November also saw a large year-on-year increase in beef export volumes to the US, but this came off an extremely low base. Exports for November increased 80pc on last year, to 16,711t – but were still 16pc below the five-year average.

Trade into the US normally tails-off leading into the northern hemisphere winter, but is going against that cycle this year due to looming domestic beef shortage, particularly in grinding beef.

Combined East/West coast US exports year-to-date have now reached 151,850t, down from 176,200t same period last year – 14pc decline in trade.


Other markets mixed

Korea and the Middle East continued their stronger demand trend in 2011, while export to Indonesia continued to experience problems related to market access.

Exports to Korea for November were up 4pc on November last year to 12,580t, including 9825t frozen and 2755t chilled. Year to date, Korea has now taken 134,000t, an 18pc rise on the first 11 months of 2010 (112,064t). With one month remaining, full year trade to Korea could exceed 140,000t for only the third year on record, MLA said on Friday.

Exports to the Middle East reached almost 3000t for November, up 19pc on the same period last year. Shipments for the calendar year-to-date have now reached 29,114t, up 25pc on last year.

Among beef export markets trending downwards in November were Indonesia, which took 3923t, down from 4429t last month and 4668t in November last year, a year-on-year decline of 16pc.

Total beef exports to Indonesia so far in 2011 (including offals) have reached 50,250t, down from 61,700t by this time last year. The decline of about 18pc has been principally caused by import permit access restrictions caused by Indonesia’s self-sufficiency drive.

Australia’s trade to CIS (principally Russia) reached 1376t for November, in a year-to-date total of 52,132t, well up from last year for the same period at 48,042t.


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