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Analysis Cattle & Beef

Beef market in Australia flourishes due to the US

May 17, 2024 - Matthijs Bremer

The Australian beef market is going through a historically strong period. Compared to 2023, exports have increased significantly. In particular, the weak export in the United States paves the way for additional Australian exports.

Australian beef exports in April increased by 46% compared to the same month in 2023. The export rose to over 113,400 tons of beef. This is the highest export figure since April 2015. Over the first four months, the total volume reached 381,360 tons of beef, an increase of 30% compared to the same period in 2023.

Small markets
With the exception of two markets, exports to all destinations are growing. Only exports to South Korea decreased by 1% in the first four months of 2024. The only exception in April was the export to China. Exports to that country decreased by 11% to just under 15,000 tons. Particularly, the growth to smaller markets was significant. For example, exports to Thailand doubled to 2,100 tons and exports to Saudi Arabia increased by 235% to 1,600 tons. A remarkable 25% of all exports had a destination outside the top 4 of the largest Australian markets.

The most remarkable is a 127% increase in exports to the US in April. In the first four months of the year, imports reached 27,250 tons. Over the last four months, exports increased by 89% to 95,400 tons.

United States
As the United States can export less beef, Australia managed to diversify its exports. Due to drought, American beef production in 2023 and 2024 is significantly lower than usual. In fact, the cattle herd reached various record lows in 2023 and 2024. Normally, the US is not only a net exporter but hardly imports any beef at all. However, due to the drought, the market is turned upside down.

This is just one way Australia benefits from lower American exports. Competition from the United States is also significantly lower, creating new export opportunities in the United States. This is particularly evident in significant increases in exports to Canada and the Philippines, two major export markets of the United States.

Matthijs Bremer

Matthijs Bremer is a market specialist in pork, beef, and poultry meat at DCA Market Intelligence. He also monitors the protein transition, keeping an eye on developments in cultured meat and meat substitutes.
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