AUSTRALIAN boxed red meat exports have reached A$4.34 billion for the year-to-April, up a significant 26pc on the same period for 2018, MLA reports.
This is first time the figure has passed $4 billion, and only the second time exports have exceeded the A$3.5 billion mark for the first four months of the year.
The large increase has been driven by drought-induced stock turn off, strong demand from many key export markets and a dropping Australian dollar assisting the competitiveness of Australian exports.
Despite the strong start to the year, supply is expected to tighten across both beef and sheepmeat as the year progresses, particularly if there is a significant break in the weather.
The US remains Australia’s most valuable export market for combined red meats, with China, on the back of 87pc value growth so far this year, currently the second largest market.
Australian beef exports reached A$2.95 billion for the year-to-April, up 27pc on last year and surpassing our previous high in 2015. This was partly driven by surging supply, but also strong export prices, which are up 11pc on year-ago levels to A$7.82/kg.
Australia’s largest market for boxed beef exports remains Japan, however both the US and China are close behind, on the back of significant market growth so far this year, increasing 29pc and 89pc respectively.
The split of exports to these three markets are quite different, highlighted by the difference in the proportion of chilled exports to each with China at 13pc, US with 38pc and Japan 59pc. Other markets that have experienced strong growth include South Korea, Indonesia, Taiwan and Saudi Arabia.
The value of the lamb exports has increased 32pc on last year to A$ 937 million for the first four months of 2019. Strong international demand, supressed competition from NZ, a depreciating Australian dollar and the impacts of the drought on supply and domestic saleyard prices have all contributed to this surge in value.
Almost every region has experienced some level of year-on-year growth, apart from the EU (down 18pc) and Japan (down 5pc). Lamb export values averaged A$8.79/kg, a lift of 11pc on 2018 and 16pc higher than the five-year average.
North America continues to be the most valuable market for lamb, with the US importing A$289 million so far in 2019. China currently is the largest volume destination for Australian lamb. However, only 13pc (in value) of Chinese lamb imports from Australia are chilled versus 65pc of lamb exports to the US, which contributes to the US market being almost twice the value of China currently. There have been some movements in this trend, as the value of China’s chilled imports from Australia increased at 76pc versus frozen imports up 61pc year-on–year.
The total value of the mutton market for 2019 year-to-April was A$388 million, representing the third year in a row where there has been positive growth for the first four months of the year.
The majority of this growth can be attributed to the Greater China region, which has experienced an 86pc increase in exports on last year. This robust demand is helping drive strong prices for sheep domestically with mutton going above 600¢/kg for the first time ever in May this year.