Aussie exports to Japan may be record

Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Feb 7, 2005
by WLJ
Another strong year is expected for beef exports from Australia, a major global supplier, with exports forecast to rise 8.9 percent to 995,000 metric tons from 2004, according to a projection issued last week by marketing concern Meat & Livestock Australia Ltd.
However, a major uncertainty in the market is the impact of a lifting of a ban on U.S. beef imports by Japan and South Korea, said Peter Weeks, MLAs chief analyst.
If only small quantities of U.S. beef enter Japan and South Korea in 2005, then total Australian exports should comfortably exceed the record of 947,000 tons set in 2001 and the actual 913,799 tons in 2004, he said in a statement.
Actual market conditions in Japan will be influenced by the terms for the re-entry of U.S. beef, with demand likely to rise if Japan drops its requirement for U.S. cattle birth records, Weeks said.
MLA forecasts beef exports to Japan will rise 9.3 percent to 430,000 tons in 2005 from a record 393,471 tons last year.
Beef exports to the U.S., Australiais second-biggest export market, are forecast to rise 2.9 percent to 360,000 tons from an actual 349,751 tons last year.
Weeks said the impact of strong prices for manufacturing beef and firm consumer demand in the U.S. is expected to more than offset a stronger Australian dollar and fierce competition for the Japanese and South Korean markets.
Beef exports to South Korea are forecast to surge 23 percent this year to a record 115,000 tons from an actual 93,310 tons in 2004.
The other major outlet for Australia beef, the domestic market, is expected to maintain modest growth this year.
Beef consumption in Australia grew 3 percent in 2004 to 774,000 tons and will rise in 2005 to 785,000 tons, MLA forecast.
Export meat is weighed free of bones, while product for the domestic market is weighed bone-in.
Weeks said the increased supply of beef will be underpinned by increased production and slaughtering.
Total beef production will rise 5 percent to 2.25 million tons this year, MLA forecast.
The company also predicted another fall in live cattle exports in 2005 to 580,000 beasts, after an 18 percent drop last year to 635,000 beasts.
Strong competition from the meat trade, record cattle prices, the high Australian dollar and increasing freight costs will continue to have an impact on the live trade, it said. — WLJ