ACCORDING to Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), Australia is one of the world’s most efficient producers of cattle.
This title saw Australia hold the title of the world’s largest exporter of beef for a period in 2015.
An MLA report looking at the 2015/16 financial year valued Aussie exports of beef, veal and cattle at $10 billion with $8.5b of that figure attributed to beef and veal with the remaining $1.5b from the 1.2 million head of live cattle exported within the period.
Further to this, the off-farm value (domestic expenditure plus export value) of the Australian beef and cattle industry came to $17.87b in 2015/16.
Of the 1.2m head exported in 2015/16, 46.2 per cent went to Indonesia, 23.5pc to Vietnam, 8.1pc to China, 6.7pc to Israel, 3.3pc and 3.7pc to Malaysia and Russia and 2.2pc to the Philippines.
Australia exported 74pc of its total beef and veal production to 84 countries in 2015/16, with 1.17mt shipped weight exported from 2.34mt carcase weight of beef and veal produced.
Globally, Australia has about 3pc of the world cattle and buffalo inventory, with India, Brazil and China taking the top three places, and Australia produces 4pc of the world’s beef supply.
In more recent data, MLA expects Australian beef exports to ease going forward, according to information outlined in their most recent cattle industry projection update which was published this month.
The net drop in Aussie beef exports is unlikely to be as great as previously forecast, but is now estimated to ease 3pc to 992,000t and will remain the fifth largest Australian beef export year on record.
After the first quarter of 2017, shipments to the major markets have been mixed and largely reflect Australian production, competition and varying sentiment in each.
Japan posted a 22pc year-on-year rise in shipments to 65,381t, while the US took 50,878t, a drop on the back of replenished domestic production.
Volumes to Korea have also reduced significantly with the US competition an increasing challenge and exports to China have edged higher slightly.
LiveLink live export statistics published this month showed feeder and slaughter cattle exports in March 2017 increased 63pc from the previous month, totalling almost 63,000 head – a figure which remains well below the historical average.
Through the first quarter of 2017, feeder and slaughter cattle exports were back 45pc compared with 2016 levels, underpinned by lower availability of Australian cattle, high cattle prices and a range of in-market challenges.
A wetter first quarter in WA and in the Northern Territory also further tightened supplies with greater numbers shifted through ports in Queensland.
Exports of feeder and slaughter cattle to major markets in Vietnam and Indonesia both edged higher in March, albeit off a low base in February.
Exports to Vietnam totalled 6558 head due to importer demand continuing to face the challenges of high cattle prices and the settling of the market following from strong feedlot sector growth in 2014 and 2015.
For the year ending March 2017, exports to Vietnam were back 192,000 head on the previous 12 months.
The market in Indonesia is a similar story, with exports tracking 14pc lower for the same period, influenced by supply constraints out of Australia but enhanced by the presence of indian buffalo meat (IBM) across the market.
The Indonesian State Logistics Agency (BULOG) looks set to bring in an additional 50,000t of IBM over the coming months, with an estimated 39,000t already in cold storage.
The Indonesian government is looking to ensure there is a sufficient supply of beef for Ramadan which falls earlier this year, commencing May 26, where there has been a historical spike in exports in the lead up to the holy period.
Current wet market prices for IBM in the greater Jakarta area vary widely and range from IDR 75,000-105,000/kg, while fresh beef trades at a premium from IDR 110,000-120,000/kg.
Looking specifically to WA, 60pc of the beef processed in WA is consumed domestically with the remaining portion exported.
WA’s diverse climate and production systems produce a range of beef products suitable for most market specifications and WA is well placed to supply a diversity of cattle types and breeds to existing and emerging markets.
The cattle exported meet a variety of specifications including light young bulls, steers and heifers (less than 350kg), slaughter-ready cattle (more than 450kg) and high quality breeding animals for beef and dairy.
Both Bos indicus and Bos taurus cattle are exported live from WA.
The main export markets for WA live cattle in 2016 were Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia and Vietnam
WA has a proud 100 year history in live exports and Australia is the most experienced and largest exporter of live animals in the world.
WA has an enviable clean animal health status and a world class individual animal identification and lifetime traceability (National Livestock Identification System) that allows the strictest biosecurity protocols to be achieved.