Meat & Livestock News

Australian Red Meat Exports Kick Off 2024 with a Bang, Surging to Meet US Demand


  • Australian red meat exports, including beef, lamb, and mutton, have seen significant growth in January 2024, with exports 41% higher than the previous January.
  • Beef exports surged by 47% year-on-year, with notable increases in North America, while lamb exports set a new record for January.
  • Mutton exports increased by 25% year-on-year, with China as the largest market and significant growth in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

As the new year unfolds, Australia’s red meat sector has hit the ground running, showcasing a significant uptick in exports across the board. January’s figures reveal a robust 41% increase compared to the same period in 2023, with a total of 133,146 swt of red meat shipped overseas.

This surge is attributed to heightened slaughter rates towards the end of last year and a noticeable dip in US production, sparking a demand spike in North American markets.

Beef Exports: A Closer Look

The beef sector, in particular, has seen an impressive 47% rise in exports year-on-year, reaching 75,585 swt and marking it as the second most prolific January since records began, only surpassed by January 2020.

The US market’s appetite for Australian beef has more than doubled, with exports to the region increasing by 127% to 20,308 swt. Canada’s demand has also skyrocketed, with a 380% increase to 1,096 swt. This demand surge comes in the wake of a 7% reduction in US cattle slaughter from the previous year, underscoring a growing reliance on Australian imports to fill the domestic shortfall.

Lamb Exports Break Records

On the lamb front, exports have soared to new heights, with a 38% increase year-on-year to 25,174 swt, marking the largest January export volume on record. This growth spurt follows a year of unprecedented production in 2023, with exports buoyed by sustained high weekly slaughter numbers.

A notable shift towards chilled exports, which rose by 71% to 11,166 swt, has reversed the previous year’s trend of frozen exports dominating the market.

Mutton Exports and Global Reach

Mutton exports have not been left behind, witnessing a 25% increase to 16,912 swt. While China continues to be the largest market with a 12% increase, the MENA region has emerged as a burgeoning market, with exports there increasing by 56%

This region’s growing importance is highlighted by the substantial increases across several countries, underscoring the global appetite for Australian red meat.

Forward Outlook

With the American cattle herd size remaining modest and a stable forecast from South American and New Zealand competitors, the global demand for red meat is poised to stay strong. Australia’s red meat industry is well-placed to leverage this demand, with rising exports to both established and emerging markets offering a golden opportunity to expand its global footprint.

This promising start to 2024 paints a bright future for Australia’s red meat exports, reflecting the industry’s resilience and strategic positioning to navigate the complexities of the global market and meet the surging demand for premium Australian meat products.