Australian red meat exports hit a four-year high in October, rising five per cent from September and 39pc from October 2022 to reach 177,665 tonnes (shipped weight), the highest monthly figure since September 2019.
The figures were compiled and released this week by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
As slaughter numbers continue to rise, beef export volumes have been rising alongside them according to Meat and Livestock Australia global supply analyst, Tim Jackson.
"Beef exports rose 7pc from September and 44pc year-on-year to 105,131t, the highest overall beef export volume seen since 2019," Mr Jackson said.
"Exports to North America have been the clear standouts in volume terms, lifting 118pc year-on-year in October to 31,577t.
"This has made North America the largest market for Australian beef this year, which is a substantial turnaround from 2022 when the US was Australia's fourth-largest export market, hitting a 20-year low of 133,946t over the year."
China was the second largest export market in October, with exports lifting 37pc year-on-year to 19,675t.
Mr Jackson said this means that so far in 2023, Australia has exported 171,587t of beef to mainland China, which puts Australia on-track to go over the 196,349t quota-free limit set out in the Australia-China Free Trade Agreement before the end of the year, which would trigger the quota safeguard and impose an additional tariff on subsequent Australian exports.
"Earlier in the year, exports to Japan were trending below year-ago levels, as strong competition from US exporters, large supplies of frozen beef in cold storage and somewhat flat consumer spending were impacting export volumes," he said.
In a sign that these trends are now beginning to reverse, exports to Japan in October lifted 5pc year-on-year to 16,563t.
Meanwhile, lamb exports fell 3pc from September but lifted 17pc year-on-year to 30,604t, while mutton exports lifted 23pc from September and 51pc year-on-year to 20,197t.
"Combined, the 50,801t of exported sheepmeat is the largest on record, and follows several record breaking months in 2023," Mr Jackson said.
North America was the largest export market for lamb during the month at 7142t.
Exports to the US fell 20pc year-on-year to 5641t, but exports to Canada lifted 46pc year-on-year to 1400 tonnes.
"Without the lift in Canadian import volumes, China would have been the largest market," Mr Jackson said.
Lamb volumes to mainland China lifted 14pc year-on-year to 6038t.
China remained the largest market for mutton, with exports lifting 57pc year-on-year to 10,195t during October.
The second largest market was the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, where exports spiked a remarkable 166pc year-on-year to 3697t.
Mr Jackson said much of this was driven by exports to Saudi Arabia, which lifted 255pc year-on-year to 1261t, but mutton exports to all major markets in the region lifted by at least 100pc from October last year.
"Already, beef, mutton and goat exports are all higher than the 2022 calendar year, and we are likely to see record high lamb exports by the end of 2023."
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