Beef weak in April falls

Livestock | 5th May 2021 | By Matt Dalgleish

The Snapshot

  • Total Australian beef export volumes dipped 13% during April to see 72,502 tonnes swt consigned.
  • Beef exports to Japan were 8% weaker during April.
  • South Korea also registered an 8% decline in volumes during April. However, they managed to creep into the second top spot for Australian beef export market share for the first time ever.
  • Flows to China saw a big decline, off 28% over April. Meanwhile the USA saw volumes ease by just 5%.

The Detail

The Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment (DAWE) beef export data for April has been released in the midst of Beef Week 2021 and it shows a weakening trend for the top four trade destinations.

Total trade volumes eased 13% from the March levels to see 72,502 tonnes swt consigned. Although it is not uncommon to see a dip in volumes during April due to the Easter disruption the monthly figures are lowest April volumes seen since 2017. Compared to the five-year average trend for April current beef export volumes are sitting 16% below the average seasonal pattern.

Australia’s lead destination for beef exports, Japan, set the softer tone with volumes easing by 8% on the March figures. There were 18,476 tonnes of Aussie beef exports to Japan recorded for April, representing a level that is 21% under the April average trend.

The race for second place, in terms of market share, is becoming interesting with South Korea moving into the silver medal position for the first time ever, capturing 18.6% of the 2021 beef export volumes from Australia.

Beef flows to Japan currently consists of 25.3%, meanwhile China sits in third place on 17.1%. The USA has slipped to fourth spot with just 15.2% of the market share in 2021.

Despite moving into the second top spot, South Korea also registered a decline in volumes during April with consignments easing by 8% to see 14,470 tonnes shipped. Although South Korea remains the only top four destination that is showing strong historic demand for Aussie beef with volumes trending above the five-year average seasonal pattern by 17% during April.

Chinese demand for Aussie beef dipped by 28% during April after closely following the five-year average trend for the first quarter of the season. There was 10,820 tonnes swt of beef exports sent to China from Australia during April, a level which is 26% under the five-year April average.

Out of the top four destinations, the USA saw the least decline in beef export volumes from Australia during April with levels easing just 5%. However, American demand remains weak with the 11,989 tonnes recorded for April 2021 representing volumes that are 36% below the April average, according to the five-year seasonal pattern. Total beef export flows to the USA from Australia during the current season sit 45% under the five-year seasonal pattern.


  • Beef
  • Cattle
  • Exports