Australia exports record $17 billion worth of red meat in 2023

Beef Central, 01/02/2024

AUSTRALIA exported a record A$17.08 billion with of beef and sheepmeat for the 12 months ending November 2023, Meat & Livestock Australia says in a market snapshot report issued today

Within the beef segment, total export proceeds from trade with more than 100 countries came to a record $11.39 billion – up 11 percent year-on-year.

MLA’s annual global market snapshots for 2024 provides insights into where volume and value was distributed to, and drivers of demand in each market.

The snapshot reports are collated by MLA to illustrate the competitive advantages and growth opportunities for Australian red meat across the world.

Value statistics in the report cover whole muscle meat, manufacturing meat (trim) and edible offals.

Covering 14 markets for beef and sheepmeat, the snapshots provide industry stakeholders access to insights on consumer demographics, perceptions, habits and trends, as well as key export statistics, analysis and updates on trade access and the competitive landscape.

This item focusses on export value among major customer countries last year. Beef Central’s earlier comprehensive 2023 calendar year export volume summary can be read here.

It’s worth noting that there is no direct parallel between volume and value, with some markets favouring lower quality beef, and others, higher. Indonesia is a good example, taking almost 70,000t of Australian beef and edible offals last year, but worth a relatively low $564 million. Eighty seven percent of last year’s trade to Indonesia was in frozen form, mostly manufacturing beef and offal.

Here’s a quick snapshot of Australia’s largest 2023 export customers, by value:

With significant growth in volume from mid-year, the United States was Australia’s largest value (and volume) export beef market last year, worth $2.55 billion to Australian exporters. When Canada is included, the North America region last year was worth $2.75 billion in beef export proceeds.

When lamb is included, the US took Australian red meat shipments last year worth $3.791 billion, up 16pc on the year before.

Opportunities for Australia in the US centre around increasing value through premium products such as chilled grassfed beef and lamb, rather than just growing consumption volume, MLA’s snapshot report says. See Beef Central’s earlier report on prospects for chilled grainfed and quality grassfed cuts exports later this year.

Taking 206,000t of beef and 165,000t of Australian lamb and mutton last year, Mainland China was Australia’s second largest beef export customer by value, accounting for $2.36 billion in sales. Hong Kong added another $115 million.

Combined beef and sheepmeat exports to China last year were worth $3.53 billion, up 13pc on the previous year.

Long-term import demand drivers are strong, MLA’s snapshot report says with China’s affluent consumer base forecast to continue expansion, along with growing appreciation for high quality red meat products.

Beef export value to South Korea last year reached $1.91 billion, reflecting the high average quality of Australian exports. Korea is among Australia’s fastest growing lamb markets in recent years with $279 million worth of sheepmeat exported there in 2023. Korea’s e-commerce channel is among the world’s largest and is an easy and convenient way for shoppers to purchase Australian red meat.

Total beef and sheepmeat value last year reached $2.43 billion, up 1pc on the previous year.

Beef export value to Japan last year reached $1.83 billion. The market is especially unique for having a highly sophisticated but also very fragmented retail food market, where Australian beef and lamb are commonly sold in retail, as both fresh meat and ready-to-eat options, MLA said.

Combined beef and sheepmeat exports to Japan last year were worth $2.283 billion, down 10pc on the previous year.

Indonesia last year took Australian beef exports worth $564m (87pc frozen, dominated by manufacturing meat), while beef and sheepmeat combined accounted for $755 million, up 28pc on the previous year.

Reflecting the slow start to trade with the United Kingdom under the new Free Trade Agreement ratified in June Australia’s beef exports last year were valued at only $36 million. Combined red meat trade totalled $147 million, and 8pc rise on the year before.

New opportunities

According to MLA’s manager of global market insights and adoption, Miho Kondo, the young, expanding and increasingly affluent consumers in emerging regions such as the Middle East and South-East Asia provided another significant opportunity for Australian red meat exporters.

“The dial has been shifting regarding the awareness of premium red meat, as demand for non-local cuisine foodservice experiences and acceptance of packaged meat products purchased from modern retail are playing a more significant role in emerging markets,” she said.

“For example, in South-East Asia, growing red meat consumption is being driven by increasing interest in dining out at not only Western-style cuisine restaurants, but also Japanese and Korean.”

“The Australian red meat industry has the potential to extend its excellent reputation overseas by expanding into more markets, accessing new consumers in already-established markets and ensuring the industry’s reputation for producing the best beef and lamb in the world,” Ms Kondo said.

“It is absolutely vital for our industry to have access to up-to-date market and consumer insights on our key global markets in order to consolidate our competitive advantages and leverage growth opportunities.”

“Understanding our target consumers and market dynamics is a key factor in understanding which products will deliver higher returns in particular sectors and segments,” Ms Kondo said.




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