Big export tonnage on sustained kills

Big export tonnage on sustained kills

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China is poised to challenge Japan as our largest beef export market.

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WHILE Victoria generally has received relief through good widespread rain, NSW and Queensland remain locked in the merciless grip of drought and it is the continuing liquidation of females from those two states that is the dominant factor in sustaining the national kill.

It will be another four weeks before ABS confirms September slaughter numbers but give or take any monthly variation in number of working days, it is expected they will be pretty much the same as August's 740,000 head.

As a result, Australia's total beef export volume for September reported by Department of Agriculture last week was 105,372 tonnes, little different to August's 106,000t.

Once again China has led the way with a new record and the second time this year that it has exceeded a monthly volume of more than 28,000t.

Back in July, China's then record 28,214t was a steep jump on the previous best of 22,000t set in the preceding months of May and June. The correspondingly large kill of 770,000 head in July was obviously a contributing factor.

Not surprisingly it seemed logical for exports to drop to 26,000t in August with the national kill that month dropping to 740,000 head.

Around the same time safeguard was triggered under ChAFTA (China Australia Free Trade Agreement) with the result of 6 per cent increase in tariff.

Midway through September it appeared as though the tariff increase might have been starting to bite as early progressive tonnage pointed to a further drop in volume for the month.

It was doubly surprising, therefore, when the end-of-month figures came in to see the surge back up to a new record 28,547t against the background of extra tariff in play and no commensurate increase in kill numbers.

That would appear to be as good an indicator as any that China's demand for beef is still rising.

For China to take more Australian beef under these circumstances it would seem logical that they are buying it away from other markets we sell to.

But a check of the figures shows that it does not appear to be at the expense at least of our other major customers.

Our largest market, Japan, took 24,300t in September, virtually identical to August.

At 20,100t, the United States was only marginally down on August while Korea's 12,700t was up by 300t.

The biggest hit seems to be Indonesia with a drop of 1100t compared to August followed by 900t less to the combined EU countries and 800t less to the Philippines.

Looking at the meteoric rise of China, which is currently running at 73pc ahead of same period 2018, it is only in the space of this current calendar year that it has displaced Korea and the US as our third and second largest markets and now stands poised to challenge Japan for the number one slot.

At the end of the third quarter China's progressive count is 200,853t of Australian beef compared to Korea's 120,933t, the US's 187,484t and Japan's 217,495t.

FLEXITARIAN OPTION: The BrewDog Hybrid Burger has a 50pc sustainably reared beef and 50pc Beyond Meat patty, 100pc vegan ingredients and two green matcha tea buns.

FLEXITARIAN OPTION: The BrewDog Hybrid Burger has a 50pc sustainably reared beef and 50pc Beyond Meat patty, 100pc vegan ingredients and two green matcha tea buns.

Hybrid burger

WHILE tapas and pintxos are popular bar snacks/light meals in Spain and Portugal, the humble beef burger is as much a universal staple across bars and cafes in Europe and Britain as it is in North America and the western world generally.

As such the burger scene represents a big component of the global lean beef market and anything that happens in that space is bound to be news.

Claiming it is taking a stand for the environment, Britain's fastest growing food and drinks operator, BrewDog, announced last Thursday its environmentally sustainable alternative to the conventional beef burger, the BrewDog Hybrid Burger.

Now available in its UK, US and European bars, the patty is 50pc sustainably reared beef and 50pc Beyond Meat (a plant-based meat substitute product from the US).

Intriguingly, the patty is surrounded by 100pc vegan ingredients and sandwiched between two green matcha tea buns.

The obvious contradiction in the beef/vegan mix has already brought howls of indignation on social media but BrewDog, which has a rich history of doing things a bit differently, seems unconcerned.

They point out that half the options on their bar menus are vegetarian and 25pc vegan.

Their target in this exercise is the flexitarian, someone who wants to reduce their meat intake and their footprint on the environment.

Whether BrewDog's pitch in this instance is on the money remains to be seen but the success story that they are is testament to their understanding of consumer trends.

Starting out in Scotland in 2007 as small-batch craft beer brewers, the founding partners now preside over a business that has 1000 employees, breweries in Scotland and America, around 90 bars worldwide and exports going out to some 60 countries.

In Australia, BrewDog has a new 25HL capacity brewery under construction at Murarrie, Brisbane, which is expected to open by the end of the year.

Prices on the move

AFTER seven weeks of steady numbers flowing through to works and stable prices, supply has tightened a notch or two shortening kill dates to less than two weeks in southern Queensland.

In consequence, southern Queensland grid rates have adjusted up this week taking 4-tooth ox to 560-570c/kg and heavy cow to 460-470c.

Despite a more comfortable supply position in central and northern Queensland, rates there have also moved.

With Monday's public holiday there were no early sales this week to gauge reaction in the physical markets.

However the 4-5c/kg LW rise on a solid yarding of heavyweight cows at Dalby last Wednesday and a 3c/kg rise at Dubbo on Thursday on similarly strong numbers probably foreshadowed the situation.

At both centres prices reached 260c/kg, in Dalby's case in pen lots.

In contrast, increased numbers of good heavy cows at Wodonga last Wednesday met with less enthusiasm and a 14c/kg price fall.

Not surprisingly, the presence of southern operators in northern markets now appears to be on the wane.

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