Australia exported 133,444 tonnes of red meat in May, a 4% increase from May 2021. To date Australia has exported 557,265 tonnes of red meat this year, a 5% decline from the first five months of 2021.
Most of the increase was due to increases in beef exports. In May, 79,536 tonnes of beef was exported, a 4% increase from May 2021 and an 11% increase from April 2022.
The largest shift seen this month was in the export of grainfed beef which rose 58% from April and 18% year-on-year (YoY) to 30,835 tonnes. This makes sense in the context of a growing feedlot sector – the number of cattle on feed in Q1 2022 grew 26% YoY to 1.27 million, the highest on record. Grainfed beef made up 39% of total exports in May, compared to 34% in May 2021 and 27% in May 2020.
The growth in grainfed export share contributed to considerable growth in Japan, Australia’s largest market. Japan exported increased 17% YoY to 25,606 tonnes. This figure is the highest recorded since March 2020, when export volumes were much higher overall. Most of this growth came from grainfed beef with grainfed exports growing by 33% YoY to 14,326 tonnes while grassfed exports increased by 2% YoY to 11,280 tonnes.
A similar dynamic can be observed in South Korea, where exports rose by 2% YoY to 13,220 tonnes. Grainfed exports rose by 10% YoY while grassfed exports fell by 4%. By contrast, the USA saw exports fall by 6% YoY to 10,992 tonnes.
This contrast shows the continued importance of grassfed beef to our export mix. In South Korea, grainfed exports make up roughly 40% of total exports which means that supply stays more consistent as production varies. The USA with its heavy demand for lean manufacturing beef, is a 95%+ grassfed market, making it more exposed to large shifts in production.
Lamb exports increased by 3% YoY in May to 26,691 tonnes. The largest destination was the USA which imported 7,201 tonnes from Australia in May, a 9% YoY increase. There was a notable shift in storage mode with frozen exports to the USA rising by 37% YoY to 3,743 tonnes while chilled exports fell by 10% to 3,458 tonnes.
By far the largest shift in the market was a rapid increase in exports to Papua New Guinea which imported 2,692 tonnes in May. This represented a 229% increase YoY and makes Papua New Guinea the third largest destination for Australian lamb in May.
In May, 11,554 tonnes of mutton was exported, a 22% increase YoY. To date, Australia has exported 57,577 tonnes of mutton this year, a 7% increase from 2021. China was the largest market in May, importing 4,332 tonnes. This is a 41% increase YoY and made China the destination for 38% of Australian exports in the month.
Much of the increase was seen through large increases to smaller markets such as Egypt, Thailand and Canada. In particular, the Middle East/North Africa region saw large increases in export volume from individual markets that contributed to a large volume increase overall. Exports to Oman were 205 tonnes up from zero in May last year, while the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia recorded increases of 207%, 163% and 65% respectively. This contributed to an overall increase in export volume of 121% for the month to 1,642 tonnes.
Australia exported 1,701 tonnes of goatmeat in May, down 12% from April and up 23% YoY. USA exports increased 31% YoY to 915 tonnes, representing 54% of total exports. South Korean exports fell by 24% YoY to 253 tonnes and exports to Taiwan rose by 63% YoY to 203 tonnes. To date, 9,359 tonnes of goatmeat have been exported in 2022, a 39% increase from the first five months of 2021.