Australia shipping more beef despite currency woes

James Nason, 07/06/2011

Latest beef export figures for May 2011 from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry show that despite setbacks in some of Australia’s largest export markets due to a high dollar, overall shipments of Australian beef by volume are increasing.

The May shipping data underscores the impact of the high Australian dollar on beef shipments to the US in particular, where exports have fallen by 42,933t or 23 percent year-on-year to total 141,776t for the fiscal year to date.

Exports to Japan were slightly lower for the period, totalling 319,779t compared to the 322,197t exported to the market in July 2009-May 2010.

Shipments to Indonesia were also down, falling by 5166t to 40,287t, reflecting the effect of import restrictions introduced in the market last year.

Despite those reductions, the data confirms the extent to which Australia’s export beef industry has successfully diversified into other export markets.

Overall exports for the period were 39,537t higher than the same period of the previous year to total 851,284t.

Rises across multiple medium to smaller markets helped to offset the combined reductions of 50,517t to Japan, the US and Indonesia, however the biggest single reason for the overall year-on-year increase in volumes has been a recovery in Russia.

Exports to Russia for the fiscal year to date have totalled 66,314, up by 46,064t on the same period last year.

Russia is a substantial net importer of beef but experienced a slump in trade from late 2008 at the time of the global financial crisis.

The country’s economy has since shown strong signs of improvement, resulting in a significant lift in beef imports as consumers began increasing meat consumption during the second half of 2010.

Notable increases in exports to other markets during the period included South Korea which rose by 16,066t to 127,795t, Central/South America which increased by 6163t to 8665t, the MIddle East (principally Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Jordan) which grew by 5508t to 19,937t and Malaysia which took an increased 4911t to 12,863.

The 10 largest export markets of Australian beef by volume from July 2010 to May 2011 were:

  1. Japan 319,779t    (Down  2418t)
  2. United States 141,776t   (Down 42,933t)
  3. South Korea 127,795t      (Up 16,066t)
  4. Russia 66,314t    (Up 46,064t)
  5. Indonesia 40,287t  (Down 5166t)
  6. Taiwan 28,065t   (Up 365t)
  7. Philippines 19,899t  (Up 3215t)
  8. Total Middle East 19,937t (Up 5508t)
  9. Malaysia 12,863t  (Up 4911t)
  10. Total EU 11,148t  (Up 3729t)


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