China responsible for big jump in Port of Brisbane beef trade

Jon Condon, 03/10/2013


Rampant growth in Australian beef exports to China is reflected in latest statistics released by Port of Brisbane this week.

Among a wide range of incoming and outgoing bulk and container traffic passing through the port last financial year, beef was singled-out for mention in a statistical review by Port of Brisbane, being up 4.1 percent for the 12 months ended June 30.

Historically, about 70 percent of Australia’s beef exports pass through the Port of Brisbane, due to its proximity to the heaviest concentration of export beef processing capacity in Australia around southeast Queensland and northern NSW.

For the 2012-13 financial year, chilled and frozen beef tonnage exiting Australia through POB totalled just over 696,000 tonnes, a 4.2 percent rise on the previous financial year (668,000t), and a similar amount over 2010-11.

In line with the quality and volume impacts created by drought, pushing more females to slaughter this year, chilled beef exports through POB have remained virtually unchanged over the past three financial years, while the big movement has come in frozen trade, up 7.3pc.

While beef exports to a number of destinations were up, the expansion in trade to China accounted for a considerable part of the growing beef traffic.

Exports to China through POB for 2012-13 reached 67,656t, skyrocketing from just 9268t the previous year. Frozen containers alone accounted for more than 58,000t, or 87pc of the total. China went past South Korea as the port’s third largest destination for beef during the year, sitting only behind Japan and the US in size.

The trade trend was also evident in the port’s records of refrigerated shipping containers used in beef trade.

Overall last financial year, there were more than 50,000 containers (TEU’s) used to export Australian beef from Brisbane, including 5073 in trade to China. The previous year, China beef trade required only 660 chilled and frozen containers.


Overall Port traffic

The Port of Brisbane report said it had delivered continued trade growth for the financial year ending June 30, with global demand for many key commodity sectors, particularly export-exposed agriculture, remaining strong despite challenging economic conditions.

Total trade handled through POB increased 2pc to 37.6 million tonnes for the financial year, compared with 36.8mt for the previous corresponding period. This result was underpinned by a 2.1pc increase in exports from 18.9 to 19.4mt, while imports increased 1.9pc from 17.8 to 18.1mt.

Solid export growth was fuelled by sustained increased global demand and higher production for agricultural commodities, particularly cotton (up 22.6pc), cereals (up 15pc) and beef (up 4.1pc), while refined oil (up 12.6pc) also experienced solid growth compared to the previous financial year.

Import growth was again driven by Queensland’s demand for motor vehicles, with car imports up 11.8pc for the financial year. Demand for building products (up 4.6pc) and retail commodities (up 4.6pc) was supported by continued strength in the A$ and signs of growth in domestic consumer confidence.

Traditional export destinations such as China, Taiwan, Japan, Taiwan and Singapore continued to dominate with demand for primary agricultural commodities – grains, beef, cotton, coal and refined oil products. 

China and Malaysia were the Port’s dominant import markets for the financial year, while Indonesia recorded strong growth during the period.


  • See Beef Central’s summary yesterday on September monthly beef exports for a snapshot of recent trends in Australia-wide exports to China, likely to exceed 130,000 tonnes this calendar year.



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