AUSTRALIA, Canberra. Australia's beef exports fell to their lowest level in 22 years last year.
Data from industry trade association Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) shows a total of 887,680 t of fresh and frozen beef were exported in shipping weight in 2021, down 151,731 t, or 14.6%, from the previous year. This was the second significant decline in a row, as beef exports had already recorded a 15.4% drop in 2020.
However, the reason for the noticeable slowdown in international beef sales was not the Corona pandemic, as with other commodities, but the rebuilding of cattle herds that had been significantly thinned in Australia's previous dry years. The resumption of larger cattle herds and growing supplies should push beef exports back above the one-million-ton mark in 2022, breaking the trough in production and exports, according to the MLA.
Australia's most important beef customer last year was again Japan, with 233,820 t, but this represented a 13.2% drop in the volume shipped there. The slump in US business was even steeper, with a record low of 145,260 t, down 31.4%. Above all, political disputes and an import ban on several Australian suppliers led to a 24.6% drop in shipments of beef to China to 148,360 t. Two years ago, the People's Republic had purchased twice as much product from Australia, at more than 300,000 t.
Among the few countries with higher sales in 2021 was South Korea, a major customer, whose purchases increased 2.6% from 2020 to 165,050 t. Exports to the Philippines rose sharply, up 26.5% to 26,270 t. Shipments to Saudi Arabia were up less significantly, by 7.6% to 11,850 t. Although the total export volume in 2021 was clearly below the previous year's level, Australia's export revenues from the beef business "only" declined by 4% to € 5.81 bn. Significantly higher beef prices on the world market limited the losses.
Source: fleischwirtschaft.de; AgE