Western Australian cattle exports and beef production increased in 2013/14 according to the latest WA Beef Commentary from the Department of Agriculture and Food.
Live cattle exports from Western Australia rose by 56 per cent to 305,000 head, driven by increased exports to Indonesia, Israel and Vietnam.
Department research officer Kimbal Curtis said the total value of cattle exported from WA to all markets increased sharply to $236 million.
Approximately 411,000 cattle were processed in WA during 2013/14, five per cent more than the previous financial year.
“The domestic market remains very important with two thirds of WA- produced beef consumed here,” Mr Curtis said. “The remaining third, worth $112 million, is exported to more than 30 countries.”
Mr Curtis said with limited opportunities to expand domestic consumption, future growth of the industry would largely depend on export markets, particularly in Asia where Japan, Indonesia and Korea together accounted for almost two thirds of WA beef exports.
“Exports of WA beef to China continue to rise rapidly with a 27 per cent increase year on year to 2100 tonnes in 2013/14,” he said. “Over the past five years, China has risen to fourth place as a destination for WA beef, a 20-fold increase over that period from a low base.”
Current demand from the US and greater Asia combined with a softening of the Australian dollar has underpinned the recent improvement in cull cow and bull prices, with live exports and the seasonal impacts on cattle availability in the east stumping up young cattle prices.
The Western Australian beef cattle herd stood at 1.88 million head in mid-2013, according to ABS data, down from 2.21 million head in 2010.
“Early signs of possible herd rebuilding include the decrease in the number, and the lower proportion of, female cattle sent for slaughter over the last 12 months,” Mr Curtis said. “The next preliminary estimates on the WA herd size are expected in early 2015.”
The current edition of the WA Beef Commentary includes a competitor analysis on Brazil and market analysis focused on Indonesia.
WA Beef Commentary is available from the department website at agric.wa.gov.au search for ‘beef commentary’.