According to the latest statistics released by Meat and Livestock Australia, red meat exports to MENA totalled 160,963t swt in the 2012-13 financial year, up 32% on the previous year. Lamb exports were up 35% to 60,700t swt, while beef exports were up 46% to 49,147t swt.
Mutton exports hit their highest level since 2008-9 and were up 18% year-on-year at 51,116t swt.
MLA said that the “phenomenal” growth in beef exports was primarily due to high demand from Saudi Arabia, which banned Brazilian beef in late 2012. Australian beef exports to Saudi Arabia increased four-fold year-on-year to 18,944t swt in 2012-13, and it is now Australia’s biggest beef market in the MENA region.
Lamb exports were driven by demand in Bahrain, Iran and Kuwait, with exports to Bahrain jumping from 229t swt in 2011-12 to 9,713t swt in the last financial year. However, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) remained the biggest market for Australian lamb in 2012-13, accounting for 25% of total exports.
The MENA region accounted for 35% of total Australian mutton exports in 2012-13, with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait accounting for 30%, 25% and 13% of shipments to the region respectively.
Beef exports to EU grow
Meanwhile, Australian beef exports to the EU reached 17,533t swt – their highest level since 1997-98 in the 2012-13 financial year. MLA put the increase down to the expansion in the grain-fed beef quota from 20,000t to 48,200t in August 2012.
The expansion of the quota saw Australian exports of grain-fed beef to the EU soar by 82% year-on-year and hit record levels of 8,724t.
Grass-fed beef exports to the EU remained strong at 8,809t swt, a 2% year-on-year increase, which the MLA said underlined “the importance of the EU as steady, high-value market for Australian high quality grass-fed beef”.
The MLA added that improved access for grain-fed beef meant that a more diverse cut mix was shipped to the EU, with blade, chuck roll and manufacturing cuts also showing increases. However, it added that striploin cuts remained in high demand in the EU, with shipments totalling 2,062t swt, a 15% year-on-year increase.
“The growth in beef shipments to the EU in 2012-13 has come at an opportune time for the Australian beef industry, as exports of high-quality chilled loin shipments to more traditional markets, such as Japan, have slowed. As Australian EU eligible supply responds to strong demand for Australian beef from the EU, grain-fed beef exports to the market should continue to expand.”