February beef exports continue growth surge, reaching 93,834t

Beef Central, 04/03/2024

AUSTRALIA’S expanding beef production this year is reflected in February exports, which were up more than 23,000 tonnes or 33 percent on the same period last year.

Exports to all markets hit 93,834t, the biggest February number since the drought turnoff period in 2019, and come on top of a flying start to the year in January. Calendar year to date, beef and veal exports have hit 135,680t, almost 33,000t or 32pc higher than a year ago.

Volume to most large export destinations grew last month, with a couple of notable exceptions.

Trade sources say the largest frozen and chilled stocks that had built up in cold storage late last year had now largely cleared, meaning many buyers were more current in supply than they have been for some time.

Japan continued its strong start to the year, taking 23,794t of Australian beef last month. That’s up 7400t or 46pc on January shipments, and 7000t or 43pc higher than February last year.

The United States continues its resurgent beef trade out of Australia, that kicked-in during the latter stages of 2023.

Chilled and frozen volume to the US last month reached 21,341t, more than 5pc higher than January’s already large figure, and almost 9500t or 80pc higher than February last year.

Declining beef production in the US after years of drought is having a sharp effect on grinding beef supply, as fewer females go to slaughter and herd rebuilding commences. That’s forcing domestic grinding beef prices higher, and lifting demand for imported product out of Australia, New Zealand and Brazil beading into northern hemisphere BBQ season.

China filled third place last month among export customers, taking 15,757t, up 1600t or 12pc on January, and 3200t or 26pc higher than February last year.

South Korea’s February total of 13,869t was 2200t or 19pc higher than a month earlier, and 4pc higher than this time last year.

Delays in access to 2024 import permits for beef to Indonesia (see earlier story) continued to restrict February trade, but numbers are again on the rise.

Last month saw 2797t of mostly frozen beef shipped to Indonesia, virtually all of it arriving after the import permits  started to circulate on 22 February. At last some of that was through beef exported via an indirect route ‘on spec’ during the month, in the hope that permits would finally arrive.

Although not fully recovered, the February shipments to Indo were up 2400t on January, when trade slowed to a trickle. In comparison, February boxed beef exports last year were booming, at 6300t.




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  1. Matthew Della Gola, 04/03/2024

    Can someone smarter than me potentially in an article please explain how we keep receiving commentary from these reliable industry sources on how difficult the trade is becoming with plenty of examples why ie shipping costs, lack of shipping, country import delays etc. But every time the department updates us, albeit after the fact, the volumes keep jumping considerably higher and higher. I’m also not just picking on beef. Sheep meat from “my industry sources” is going overseas at a ridiculous margin, and they can’t get enough onto containers. Cheers Matthew Della Gola

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