Meat & Livestock News

Australia’s Prominent Role in Global Beef Trade Amidst Varied International Production Trends

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently published its quarterly ‘Livestock Products and Trade’ report, offering insights into global beef production and the future outlook for international trade. The report forecasts global beef production to remain stable at just under 59.5 million tonnes (mt) for the year, primarily due to adjustments in American beef production projections. The expected decline in American production is now 3% for 2024, a reduction from the previously forecasted 6%.

This adjustment reflects a continued decrease in the American cattle herd and an extended period of herd liquidation. Although specific herd numbers for January have not been released, they are anticipated to be the lowest in several decades, with female slaughter rates remaining above 50%.

In contrast, Brazilian beef production is projected to increase by 3% to 10.8mt in 2024. This rise is attributed to a combination of factors, including an increase in female slaughter and a slight potential destocking. However, the primary driver is a long-term growth in the Brazilian herd, facilitated by changes in land use patterns that have enhanced Brazil’s livestock carrying capacity.

Argentina, facing persistent dry conditions, is expected to see a 6% decline in beef production to 3mt in 2024. These adverse weather conditions, coupled with a weak Argentinian peso, have significantly affected stock feed availability and increased the difficulty of supplementary feeding, leading to lower carcass weights.

Despite this production decline, Argentinian beef exports might increase following the new federal government’s decision to lift several export restrictions imposed by the previous administration.

Australia is set to witness the most significant increase in beef production, with USDA estimates indicating an 8% rise to 2.35mt. This growth underscores Australia’s role as a major player in beef exports while being a relatively small producer. With exports expected to increase by 10% to 1.69mt in 2024, Australia is poised to become the second-largest beef exporter after Brazil.

The upcoming Cattle Industry Projections from Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), due for release on 26 February, will provide further details on Australia’s current situation. However, the USDA report already highlights Australia’s strong position in the international market, especially given the ongoing decline in the American cattle herd.