Market Morsel: Who’s cutting our lunch?

Livestock | 11th April 2022 | By Matt Dalgleish

Market Morsel

The USA are unique to us in the beef export trade in that they are a competitor of ours into Asia, yet they are also a customer for Australian beef.

The market share of US beef import flows over the past five years highlights a new competitor to Australia has emerged with Brazil staging a meteoric rise in market share from 5% of the US trade in 2017 to 25%, so far in 2022. The growth in Brazilian access to US beef markets appears to have “cut the lunch” of the Aussies and the Kiwis.

Tight cattle supplies in Australia and high relative domestic prices compared to offshore values have seen Australian share of the US beef import trade dwindle from 23% in 2017 to just 10% this year.

On the beef export side of the equation, the USA have been experiencing an increase to demand from South Korea. Since 2017 South Korean market share of US beef exports has risen from 17% to 25%, eclipsing Japan as the number one destination for US beef in 2022. Over the same time frame increased South Korean demand for Aussie beef exports have seen their market share lift from 15% in 2017 to nearly 19% this year.

However, the biggest change in the market share of US beef exports has been China. Prior to the trade deal negotiated by the Trump administration the trade in US beef to China was negligible at around 1% of total US beef exports. In 2019 Chinese market share of US beef exports sat at 4%, after the first year of the trade deal in 2020 this lifted to 16%. So far in 2022, US beef exports to China are running at 17% of the total US beef export trade.

In 2019 China was in the thick of their African Swine Fever epidemic and were sourcing meat protein aggressively. That year China was Australia’s biggest market for beef exports holding over 24% of the market share from Australia. As of 2022 the Chinese share of the beef export trade from Australia has slipped to 19%.

The US-China trade deal came to an end in December 2021 but the market share of US beef export volumes in China are managing to hold their gains.  Australia competing with the USA for our top three beef export markets of Japan, South Korea and China appears set to stay.



  • Beef
  • Cattle
  • Exports
  • Trade