Japan, South Korea key markets for Aussie beef

Steady as she goes: Rabobank analyst Angus Gidley-Baird says Japan and South Korea beef demand should not be underestimated.

Japan and South Korea will continue to feature as important markets for Australia’s beef exports, according to a new industry report.

The report, Uncovering the Value of the Japanese and South Korean Beef Markets, by Rabobank, says Japan and South Korea already represent two very important markets for Australia’s beef industry, “despite not boasting the headlines of record growth or market-setting prices” seen for other export destinations, such as China and the United States, in recent years.

Rather, Japan and South Korea’s underlying value comes from their consistent and stable consumption patterns, ease of doing business and ability to optimise carcase value, it says.

Japan and South Korea represented a combined $3.7 billion worth of beef exports for Australia in 2020 (38 per cent of Australia’s total beef exports by value).

Rabobank expects total import volumes for Japan to grow during the next five years at an average of just over two per cent a year, while South Korean total beef imports are forecast to grow slightly faster at just under four per cent a year.

Report co-author Angus Gidley-Baird said while neither Japan nor South Korea represented the imported volume growth prospects of China and some other countries, they were nonetheless very important markets for Australian beef into the future.

“Given that Australia’s current beef production is down and is many years off recovering and growing beyond its previous volumes, what we need at the moment is strong trade partners who value the Australian product,” he said.

“Over the past 20 years, the Japanese and South Korean markets have remained true to form, providing major beef-exporting countries, such as Australia, with a stable, reliable market. At the same time, the strength of demand in these markets also means they hold their own on volumes and prices.”

Having access to the Japanese and South Korean markets “provides a foundation for Australia’s beef exports”, the report says.

“These countries will continue to form the cornerstone of the Australian beef export market and, as such, help to underwrite the success of the Australian beef industry,” Mr Gidley-Baird said.

“This makes them critically-important trading partners that require ongoing attention.”