Boxed meat exports hit record $4.34 billion in first four months of 2019

Boxed meat exports soar through $4 billion barrier in first four months of year

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SLAUGHTERING RECORDS: The value of Australia's boxed red meat exports hit a record $4.34 billion in the year to April.

SLAUGHTERING RECORDS: The value of Australia's boxed red meat exports hit a record $4.34 billion in the year to April.

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Exports of boxed beef passed the $4 billion mark for the first time in the first four months of the year.

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Australian boxed red meat exports for the first four months of the year passed the $4 billion mark for the first time.

Meat & Livestock Australia said exports soared to $4.34 billion for the year-to-April, up 26pc on the same period for 2018.

This was the first time shipments had gone past $4 billion and only the second time they had exceeded $3.5 billion mark.

MLA said the large increase had been driven by drought-induced stock turn off, strong demand from many key export markets and a dropping Australian dollar assisting the competitiveness of Australian exports.

"Despite the strong start to the year, supply is expected to tighten across both beef and sheepmeat as the year progresses, particularly if there is a significant break in the weather," it said.

The US remained Australia's most valuable export market with China, on the back of 87pc value growth so far this year.

Australian beef exports reached $2.95 billion for the year-to-April, up 27pc on last year and surpassing our previous high in 2015.

This was partly driven by surging supply but also strong export prices which were up 11pc on year-ago levels to $7.82 a kg.

Australia's largest market for boxed beef exports remained Japan, however both the US and China were close behind on the back of significant market growth so far this year, increasing 29pc and 89pc respectively.

"The split of exports to these three markets are quite different, highlighted by the difference in the proportion of chilled exports to each with China at 13pc, US with 38pc and Japan 59pc," MLA said.

The value of the lamb exports increased 32pc on last year to $937 million for the first four months of 2019.

Strong international demand, supressed competition from NZ, a depreciating Australian dollar and the impacts of the drought on supply and domestic saleyard prices all contributed to the surge in value.

Lamb export values averaged A$8.79 a kg, a lift of 11pc on 2018 and 16pc higher than the five-year average.

North America continues to be the most valuable market for lamb, with the US importing $289 million so far in 2019. China was now the largest volume destination for Australian lamb.

However, only 13pc (in value) of Chinese lamb imports from Australia are chilled versus 65pc of lamb exports to the US, which contributed to the US market being almost twice the value of China currently.

The total value of the mutton market for 2019 year-to-April was $388 million, representing the third year in a row where there has been positive growth for the first four months of the year. Most of the growth was due to demand from China.

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