US appetite drives Aussie beef exports to two-decade high

8 April 2024
The US herd is at the lowest level in seven decades, meaning Australian cattle is in demand. Pic: AgriShots.
An article by  Matt Dalgleish

During the first quarter of 2024 Australian beef export flows totalled 275,992 tonnes. Q1 2024 has seen beef export volumes running 25% higher than during the first quarter of 2023.

Compared to the five-year average for the first quarter of the year the current season’s export volumes are 22% higher.

This is the highest level that Q1 beef exports have been since 2015, which is also the last year that the USA eclipsed Japan for top beef trade destination for Australia.

US consumers must be pounding through their burgers full of Aussie beef mince currently.

In terms of market share of export destinations for 2024, thus far, the USA remain in top spot accounting for 24.7% of the total beef trade from Australia.

Japan sits in second place on 22.2% share. Meanwhile, China and South Korea are in a tussle for the bronze medal place with a share of 16.8% and 14.7%, respectively.

Top four beef export destinations


Quarterly beef exports from Australia to the USA was 68,095 tonnes swt for Q1, 2024. This is 79% higher than the first quarter flows seen in 2023 and 66% above the five-year average for Q1 beef trade flows. While an impressive start to the year it is still a good way off from the record highest Q1 result from 2015, which saw 105,658 tonnes of Aussie beef shipped to the USA.


There was a 61,132 tonnes of Australian beef shipped to Japan during Q1 2024. Compared to Q1 in 2023 the current quarterly beef flows to Japan are running 25% higher. However, 2023 was a pretty weak season for beef import demand in Japan due to high cold store supply. The current seasons beef flows from Australia are running 9% above the average five-year seasonal pattern.


Beef exports to China continue to hold up well, especially considering not all of the export players from Australia have access. The Q1 2024 volumes came in 8% higher than the levels seen during the first quarter of 2023 with 46,431 tonnes reported shipped for Q1 2024. Compared to the five-year average quarterly beef export volumes from Australia to China this represents trade levels that are 5% above the average seasonal trend.

South Korea

In March 2023 there was a spike in beef export volumes to South Korea as the government reduced tariffs to help curb food inflationary impacts. This saw quarterly flows for Q1 in 2023 somewhat inflated. This year volumes are back to more normal levels with Q1 2024 registering 40,496 tonnes consigned, which is 8% above the five-year average flows seen for Q1. Compared to the Q1 2023 volumes though the current Q1 volumes are running 7% lower, which is to be expected given the strong showing during March 2023.

This article originally appeared at Episode3. Republished with permission.

Matt Dalgleish is Founder & Director of Episode3. Follow him on X here


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