Article – China's hunger for red meat

18 June 2014
Clint Jasper
ABC Rural
Between 2011 and 2013 boxed sheepmeat and beef exports to China jumped from just 3 per cent to 17 per cent of all Australian beef and sheepmeat exports, according to data from the Department of Agriculture and Meat and Livestock Australia.
Demand for red meat in China is being driven by increasing urbanisation, rising incomes and a changing palate, which when combined with a restricted domestic supply create huge opportunities for the Australian industry.
And the growth in the Chinese market is seeing product diverted from other markets, according to Mecardo analyst Gregorio Vial.
In terms of beef, in 2005, 91 per cent was exported to three countries; Japan, the USA and South Korea.
That number had dropped to 60 per cent in 2013, and China had taken South Korea’s spot in the top three export destinations.
The sheepmeat market has also diversified, with China taking a larger share.
Mr Vial says, just like for many other Australian agricultural products, a perception of safety and quality helps sales in China.
“There has been a number of food safety concerns in China, and this drives demand for Australian produce.”
Adelaide-based meat exporter Samex has felt the effects of the growing demand.
Exports manager Simon Linke says of the approximately 50 countries they export beef and sheepmeat to, China is close to the most important.
“China’s taken on a huge role, Samex has been exporting to China since the early nineties.
“What we’re seeing now is that the rage of products is expanding, beef has become more popular.”
Mr Linke says the company has been lucky to avoid having to divert stock away from other countries in order to maintain supply to China.
Courtesy of ABC Rural