Exports of Australian beef and veal are the highest on record, with soaring demand from China and the Middle East pushing the monthly total in May above 100,000 tonnes for the first time.
According to figures from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, more than 103,200 tonnes of veal and beef were shipped in the month. The figure eclipses the previous monthly record of 94,693 tonnes in November 2006 and is 19 per cent higher than exports in May last year.
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Joe Ludwig, and Trade Minister Craig Emerson, who also assists on Asian Century Policy, said many Australian meat processors were working at full capacity to meet rising demand.
Of the May record, the largest increase was to China, which took close to 11,500 tonnes, a 15-fold increase on May last year. China is likely to import 100,000 tonnes of Australian beef and veal by the end of the year.
In April, China advised Australia that an additional four export establishments and 28 cold stores would soon have access to the Chinese market.
Minister Emerson said he had spoken to meat processors in Australia who were operating at full capacity and exporting more than ever.
"Australia's future prosperity is partly tied to capitalising on demand for high-end food from Asia's expanding middle class," Minister Emerson said.
"Export figures like these show that many of our producers are already reaping the rewards of the Asian Century," he said.
Minister Ludwig said the emerging trend testified to the success of the Australian meat industry.
While recognising that some graziers were doing it tough at present, he said strong demand for Australian food was positive for the industry.
"Food produced in Australia has a global reputation for its high quality," Minister Ludwig said.
"This is exactly the time to be investing more to capitalise on opportunities in new markets.
"The Government's National Food Plan, unveiled last month, provides a roadmap for increased exports.
"We're supporting local businesses with grants and extra agricultural counsellors in our overseas markets," Minister Ludwig said.
There was also a surge in demand from the Middle East, which imported close to 16,500 tonnes of beef and veal from Australia in May. This is a 46 per cent increase on the same time last year, and 7 per cent higher than the previous market record set in April 2013.
The increase reflected the growing importance of the Middle East as a destination for Australian beef and veal, and showed the increasing diversity of Australia's export markets, Minister Ludwig said.
"Widening the range of export destinations for red meat makes Australian producers less vulnerable to market fluctuations around the world," he said.
- Minister's Office: (02) 6277 4330
- DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555