Meat & Livestock News

Australia Sees Robust Start to Year in Beef Exports


  • Australia’s beef exports in January reached 75,585 tonnes, marking the strongest start since the 2019-20 drought period.
  • The United States continues to be a major buyer, with exports more than doubling from the previous January.
  • Other significant markets include Japan, China, and South Korea, with notable increases in beef trade, while trade with Indonesia saw a sharp decline due to import permit delays.

Australia’s beef exports have kicked off the year with remarkable strength, recording a January total of 75,585 tonnes.

This figure represents the most substantial start to the year since the drought period of 2019-20, significantly surpassing the five-year January average of 59,000 tonnes. The increase follows a strong December trade and occurs despite disruptions from the DP World waterside dispute and weather-related delays.

Processing and Export Highlights

Beef processing began robustly in 2023, with the National Livestock Reporting Service noting an 11% increase over the previous year and a 32% rise from 2022 in the first four weeks. The United States has emerged as a key market, purchasing 20,308 tonnes of Australian beef and veal in January, a significant increase from 8,953 tonnes in the same period last year.

Australia is poised to gain a competitive edge over Brazil in the US market due to quota limitations that Brazil faces, potentially leading to higher tariffs on Brazilian beef exports as their quota fills up.

Market Dynamics and International Trade

Australia’s beef trade with Japan, China, and South Korea showed robust growth in January. Japanese imports of Australian beef rose by 23%, while trade with China increased by approximately 34%. South Korea’s imports also saw an uptick, with a 15% increase from the previous January.

Conversely, beef exports to Indonesia experienced a dramatic decline, attributed to delays in the issuance of 2024 import permits. This has significantly impacted trade volumes, with January shipments to Indonesia falling to just 341 tonnes.

Challenges and Opportunities

Despite geopolitical challenges affecting shipping in the Red Sea region, beef shipments to the Middle East saw a 23% increase compared to the same period last year.

However, exports to the European Union and the United Kingdom remained low, and while Canada showed strong demand for Australian beef in the latter part of the previous year, January exports did not maintain this momentum.