The record pace of Australian red meat exports so far in 2013 was sustained during October, with both beef and lamb shipments for the month to be close to the highest on record. However, it must be noted that the pace of exports is largely due to the increased flow of stock into processing plants.
For cattle producers, the ample flow of stock is still due to the drought conditions throughout the majority of Queensland and northern NSW – the region which holds the bulk of Australia’s cattle herd. This has driven additional cattle through processing plants for the past ten months, which has fortunately been matched by expanding export volumes to China, Korea and the Middle East. Estimating that October 2013 exports will come in at around 100,000 tonnes swt, an additional 110,000 tonnes swt, or 14%, of beef has been exported so far in 2013 – which equates to beef from around an additional 588,000 head of cattle – compared to the corresponding period in 2012.
In some rare positive news for northern Australian producers in 2013, the allocation of additional live cattle permits to Indonesia for the remainder of the year has kicked indicative live export prices higher in recent weeks – accentuated by the scramble to purchase northern cattle fitting specifications in the wake of the exceptionally tough season.
For lamb turnoff and exports, a combination of more lambs on the ground in the past year, higher traditional spring turnoff and deteriorating conditions in western and northern NSW has underpinned high processing numbers. Exports for October are estimated to exceed 19,000 tonnes swt for only the second month on record.