Red meat exports for July dropped 24% in value compared to the same month last year, falling from $1.1 billion to $807 million, the Meat Industry Association says.
MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva said the results were in line with previous July exports from 2016-2021. However, sheepmeat markets are under significant pressure.
“This big drop is a short-term impact from the very high export volumes last July, which were largely a result of covid-related disruptions in the first quarter,” she said.
“That resulted in a 33% increase in sheepmeat exports compared to July 2021 and was the largest July export volume since 2008.
“However, while this July’s drop in sheepmeat was largely due to short-term factors, overall, we are also seeing a long-term trend for a reduction in the volume of sheepmeat exports and an increase in beef exports. This is due to the decline in the sheep flock and the increase in cattle numbers – for both beef and dairy.”
Productivity gains in the sheep sector meant that the drop in sheepmeat exports has not been as significant as the increase in beef exports, Karapeeva said.
China remained the largest market for the month but saw the largest drop in overall exports for both beef and sheepmeat, down 45% to $247m.
Exports to the United States were up 25% from last July, to $231m, with beef in particular recovering from very low 2022 levels.
Canada was the third largest market for the month, with a significant surge in exports, up 98% from last July to $35m. This was mainly driven by record beef exports.
Overall, year on year, sheepmeat exports were down 25% by volume to 24,677t and 34% by value to $249m. However, exports last July were the highest for a number of years, so the 2023 figures were also in line with other recent July results.
The largest drop in sheepmeat exports was to China, down 31% by volume to 12,148t and 45% by value to $74m.
Exports to most other markets declined from the high levels of last July, but exports to the US increased, up 33% by volume to 2,571t and 6% by value to $49m.
Total beef exports increased by 8% by volume, compared to last July, to 46,242t but dropped 13% by value to $405m.
The US was the largest beef market for the month, taking 18,154t worth $161m. This was an increase of 115% by volume and 81% by value from the very low level of exports last July.
Beef exports to China declined, down 29% by volume to 16,241t and 48% by value to $124m compared to last July. While this drop can be partly attributed to the high level of exports last July, exports were still lower than other recent July figures for China.
Fifth quarter exports were worth $153m, down 33% from last July. There was a drop in the value of nearly all product categories – apart for pet food, which was up 2% from last July to $12m.