China to become Australia’s largest beef market


Amidst the bleak challenge of drought facing Australia’s rural sector, there is a bright patch for beef producers targeting the world’s biggest consumer market

30 September 2019 | (AAP Medianet)

China is on the cusp of becoming Australia’s largest beef export market in 2019, with little sign of demand abating anytime soon, as Chinese consumers shift away from pork to other proteins in the wake of African Swine Fever, according to a leading animal protein analyst visiting from China.

And it is not just China that has been gripped by the disease, with the virus confirmed just last week in South Korea and prevalent in many South-East Asian countries and parts of Europe and Africa.

Rabobank’s senior animal proteins analyst for China, Chenjun Pan said with the Chinese pig herd halving over the past year to 200 million pigs as a result of African Swine Fever (ASF), the increase in demand for other meats, including beef, had risen significantly.

And this had changed the global meat trade pattern, she says, with China – the world’s largest animal protein importer – now accounting for 27 per cent of the world’s pork imports and 24 per cent of global beef imports.

Rabbobank analyst, Chenjun Pan

“Chinese beef imports have risen by 53 per cent so far this year, while imports from Australia have increased by 65 per cent in the year-to-date (July) – with China overtaking the US and Japan to become Australia’s largest export market for beef,” she says.

Ms Pan has spent the past two weeks meeting with beef producers across Queensland and New South Wales to give a first-hand account of the impact of ASF on China’s pork industry and the wider animal proteins market.

She says China’s demand for beef will continue to grow, with the country expected to source 30 per cent of their beef from overseas markets by 2025. “This is a total turnaround from just 10 years ago when China was a net exporter of beef and an increase on last year, when 20 per cent of the country’s beef was imported.”