RECORD beef and lamb exports have propelled Australian red meat exports to the Middle East to new heights.
Meat and Livestock Australia reports that Australia’s red meat exports to the Middle East in May totalled 16,492 tonnes (shipped weight), a 46 per cent increase year-on-year and 7pc above the previous record set in April 2013.
Beef exports totalled 6226 tonnes in May, up 166pc year-on-year, while lamb shipments reached 5955 tonnes, up 37pc.
The growth in beef exports has been driven by a surge in shipments to Saudi Arabia, with exports totalling 3733 tonnes in May, or 61pc of total monthly beef exports to the region.
A Saudi Arabian ban on Brazilian beef in late 2012 has been the catalyst for the growth, according to MLA.
Brazil exported 33,396 tonnes of beef to Saudi Arabia in 2012, with its absence providing opportunities for Australian beef to gain market share.
Exports of beef to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Jordan, Australia’s largest and second largest beef markets in the Middle East during 2012, respectively, have slowed somewhat in 2013, as Brazilian product is reportedly diverted to these markets.
Record lamb shipments in May were spurred by strong growth to the UAE with 1409 tonnes, a 35pc increase year-on-year, Jordan with 1961 tonnes, a 48pc increase, and Bahrain with 1185 tonnes, up from 50 tonnes in May 2012.
The increase is dramatic given that 10 years ago in May 2003, Australian red meat exports to the region totalled 3319 tonnes. Beef exports were a mere 301 tonnes compared to the 6226 tonnes of beef shipped in May this year.