Monthly beef export data released by the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries yesterday shows a 14 percent lift in trade for October, compared with the same month last year.
Direct comparisons year-to-year are misleading, however, as trade in October 2010 was blighted by rainfall disruptions to cattle movements and processing in Eastern Australia.
The total Australian beef and veal export figure for October this year of 83,823 tonnes, a 2.3pc rise from September’s 81,965t, reflects the rising export meatworks throughput trend discussed earlier on Beef Central.
Indicative average weekly Queensland cattle slaughter statistics for October compiled by NLRS were up 10pc year-on-year, while the eastern states kill was +3pc for the same period.
Importantly, average weekly Queensland adult cattle slaughter statistics for October showed that male throughput was up 12pc year-on-year, while female throughput only increased 3pc.
Added to the additional number of cattle processed during October was the influence of heavier carcase weights, reflecting strong seasonal conditions. According to production figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, monthly average cattle carcase weights for the first eight months of 2011 were up 3.5pc on last year – with this heavier trend expected to be sustained for the remainder of the year.
Meat & Livestock Australia reported demand for Australian beef increasing marginally to most markets during October, assisted temporarily by the lower A$ throughout the first-half of the month (see home-page A$ graph).
While this year’s was the largest October export total seen for the past three years, it was still well below 2006-2008 levels, when shipments averaged more than 90,000 tonnes during this traditional peak trade period.
Solid rises to Japan and Korea
Exports to both Japan and Korea increased during October were +9pc and +26pc respectively on the corresponding period last year.
Shipments to Japan totalled 29,750t. While encouraging given the tough market conditions of recent months, this was still 6pc behind the October monthly average for the past five years.
Trade with Korea continued to track at historically high levels, despite the increased presence of US beef, with the 12,237t representing the highest monthly volume since March.
While the DAFF export statistics for October showed that year-on-year, Australian beef shipments to the US increased 36pc, this could be very misleading if not put in context, MLA warned.
Although October exports totalled 12,196t, up from 8951t for the same period in 2010, it was still 44pc below the average for the past five years. For the 2000-2009 period, Australian exports to the US during October averaged 30,729t, peaking at 39,191t in 2001, when the A$ averaged US50¢.
Australia is on track to record its lowest calendar year export volume to the US since the mid-1960s, MLA reported. For the first ten months of 2011, exports have contracted 19pc, to 135,139t.
Most South East Asian markets delivered year-on-year increases in Australian beef exports for October, including Indonesia (up 8pc, at 4429t), Hong Kong (up 223pc, to a record 1473t), Malaysia (up 22%, to 1215t) and Singapore (up 144pc to 1157t).
A record amount of beef was also shipped to China during October, rising 86pc year-on-year to 1058t.
Exports to the Commonwealth of Independent States, particularly Russia, totalled 4391t during October. While this was back 56pc on last year's very large 9995t, it was the second largest October volume on record.
Continuing the trend of recent years, Australia's beef exports are diversifying away from the traditional big three of Japan, the US and Korea. For October, 35.4pc of all exports went to “other” markets, totalling 29,640t.
For the first 10 months of 2011, while total beef and veal exports were up 3pc year-on-year to 777,393t exports to “other” markets increased 22pc, totalling 242,367t. That represented 31.2pc of all shipments.