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Australia ahead in race for US beef market

Brazil tariff puts Australia ahead in race for US beef market.


Key Points

  • Brazil will remain the world's biggest beef exporter this year and next, with China still its biggest market, a position it has held since 2009.

  • Brazilian beef exports to the US are lower for the year-to-date than in 2022 and well below Australian volume in that market.

  • Australian beef exports to the US for year-to-August are already higher than last year's total volume.

One of Australia's biggest export beef market competitors, arguably the most significant competitor, with more than 20% of the global trade, is also feeling a domestic cattle price pinch.


Brazil's cattle price cycle is heading south, with returns for their cattle in July reportedly 22% lower than they were at the same time last year. Slaughter is moving in the opposite direction, forecast by the USDA to increase by 7% year-on-year in 2023, equating to an 8% increase in beef production.


Does it sound familiar? These two countries also share their major export market partners, China and the US, which rank first and second for Brazil and are currently third and first for Australia.


For the first half of the year, Brazilian beef export volumes were down 3.8% year-on-year. Trade with China, by far the country's biggest market, stalled earlier this year because of atypical BSE detection, which meant China went from taking more than 70% of all Brazilian beef exports in 2022 to just over 50% this year. The next biggest importer of Brazilian beef, being the US, has received 7% so far this year by comparison.


However, the stall was short-lived, and June saw the second-biggest monthly total volume of beef go from Brazil to China on record. Chinese demand for Brazilian beef is set to remain in the medium term, in terms of volume at least, with imports potentially slowing down for the remainder of the year. Still, Brazil is in the box seat to fill the demand because of its ample supply and low prices.



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