Live cattle export trend brings out a smile

Livestock | 1st July 2021 | By Matt Dalgleish

The Snapshot

  • Live cattle export flows for May 2021 have staged a 49% increase over the month with 88,424 head shipped.
  • Indonesian live cattle volumes edged sideways from April to May to see 40,582 head of cattle consigned, 20% under the average trend.
  • Meanwhile Vietnam staged a huge boost in their live cattle volumes with a 586% jump over May, albeit off a very low base in April, to bring levels back in line with the average seasonal trend at 25,499 head.
  • The May 2021 export volumes from Australia to China lifted 20% to see 8,513 head of cattle transported.

The Detail

Monthly Australian live cattle export flows for May 2021 have staged a 49% increase on the volumes reported in April with 88,424 head registered as shipped. This is the highest monthly total seen this season and brings the total cattle export flows for May within 13% of the five-year average levels that could be expected for May.

Despite the increased trade during May, live cattle exports from Australia during 2021 have been running 24% under the seasonal average trend. However, given the high domestic cattle prices and the tight supply experienced this season the improvement in export volumes should bring a little smile to the faces of those producers reliant on a robust live cattle sector.

Australia’s largest live cattle market, Indonesia, continues to show a “steady as she goes” approach with volumes edging sideways from April to May to see 40,582 head of cattle consigned. Compared to the five-year average seasonal trend for May the Indonesian demand is sitting around 20% under trend.

In contrast, Australia’s second largest destination market for live cattle, Vietnam, is demonstrating much more month to month volatility this season. Thankfully May has entered an upward swing with live cattle volumes jumping 586% from April (granted April was significantly under the average pattern). Vietnam recorded 25,499 head of Australian cattle during May taking the monthly volumes to sit right on the five-year average seasonal level for May.

Live cattle flows to China from Australia continue to run under the seasonal trend since dipping under the five-year average pattern in February. The May 2021 export volumes lifted 20% on the April levels to see 8,513 head of cattle transported. Despite the gain in May trade flows to China remain 29% below the seasonal average pattern.

Australian live export cattle flows to all other destinations (outside the top three of Indonesia, Vietnam and China) displays an increasing trend with the May volumes increasing by 54% to see 13,830 head reported bringing the export volumes in line with the five-year average for May.


  • Live cattle
  • Live export
  • Cattle
  • Beef
  • Exports