Chinese demand for Australian beef dips

By Aidan Fortune

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Australia China Japan Beef Mla Lamb

The impact of Coronavirus in China has hit Australian beef exports to the country, with Japan becoming its top customer.

According to latest data from Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), Australian beef exports were 93,000 tonnes in February 2020, down 2% on the same month last year.

Taking into account January volumes, 2020 is ahead of 2019 on a year-to-date basis, however, export volumes are expected to ease in the coming months due to cattle slaughter dropping lately.

February beef exports to China were 16,700 tonnes, less than half of the volume sent in December.

MLA believes that while demand from China is currently volatile, there is confidence that it will recover in the long term, underpinned by growing consumer wealth and the gap in domestic pork supply, resulting from African Swine Fever.

The MLA added: “While total Australian beef exports for the month are relatively flat, the impact that the Coronavirus has had upon China demand is evident to see.”

Japan proved to be the biggest customer of Australian beef. The data showed that exports to Japan were 23,700 tonnes in February, up 1% year-on-year. This marks the first time that Japan has been the top export destination since June 2019.

Other key markets for Australian beef so far in 2020 are the United States, up 5% year-on-year and the majority of South-East Asia, where exports are up 17%.

Exports of Australian lamb in February were 23,800 tonnes, down 5% year-on-year as a result of dropping domestic supply. The US was the top destination for lamb, ending the 11-month streak that China had in the top spot.

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