Australian beef exports returned another massive increase in April, with the volume rising to 105,367 tonnes, a massive 46% increase on the same month last year and it brings the total for the first four months of this year to 381,360t, a 30% increase on the same period in 2023.

Volumes to all Australia’s key beef export markets have increased with the exception of Korea, which shows a small 1% reduction in the January to April period.

The most spectacular increase is in beef exports to the US, which are up a massive 89% to 95,390t for the period with huge percentage increases to Canada and Philippines as well, though these countries are traditionally much smaller volume markets.

Sheepmeat

Australia is the world’s largest exporter of sheepmeat and the first four months of 2024 shows that their number one position will be further consolidated.

Overall volumes exported in April increased by almost one third to 50,232t, of which 31,318t was lamb, a 41% increase on the volumes exported in 2023.

This brings export volumes for the first four months of 2024 to 195,638t, a 26% increase on the corresponding period in 2023.

China remains the top market for Australian sheepmeat exports though volumes are lower than they were this time last year.

In April, exports to China were 10,057t, a fall of 20% compared with April 2023.

Volumes for the first four months of 2024 to China are a still healthy 42,340t, which is 10% lower than the same period in 2023.

The Korean market is also down on last year by 22% to 2,047t in April and by 23% for the year to date at 7,056t.

Other markets

Elsewhere, all the major markets for Australian sheepmeat all recorded significant growth in April and the first four months of the year.

As was the case with beef exports, the most spectacular growth came from the US, where the volume in April was 8,662t, a massive 89% increase compared with April 2023.

It was a similar pattern for the four months to the end of April, with sales to the US up 54% to 34,800t.

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Exports to Middle East countries was also up substantially, more than doubling to 10,458t to Saudi Arabia and increasing by 22% to 11,998t for UAE.

Exports of sheepmeat to the UK more than doubled in April 2024 compared with April last year.

With 1,634t, the UK became Australia’s sixth-largest export market for sheepmeat in April and no doubt the dramatic increase was at least partially attributable to the fact that there was zero tariffs to be paid, with the trade deal that came into effect from the beginning of June 2023.

Australia exported 5,185t of sheepmeat to the UK for the first four months of 2024.

Comment

The volume of Australian exports over recent months suggests that Australia is probably approaching its peak following restocking after a prolonged drought.

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Australia is always vulnerable to such climate events and, therefore, the volumes traded in export markets tend to vary.

The current growth in exports has coincided with increased demand from the US following a tightness of cattle supply there.

Strong demand from this market has probably curtailed beef exports to the UK under the trade deal, which has contributed greatly to the increase in sheepmeat exports to the UK.

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