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Argentine Beef Exports Downward Trend Continues

23 March 2012
Meat & Livestock Australia

ARGENTINA - Argentinean beef exports fell 16 per cent year-on-year in 2011, to 129,484 tonnes swt, continuing the downward trend of the past 10 years and registering the lowest yearly total since 2001, reports Meat and Livestock Australia.

The decline in export volumes during 2011 has resulted in Argentina slipping from the fourth largest global beef exporter to just inside the top 10.

The decline in export volumes coincides with a five per cent year-on-year reduction in beef production over the same period, to 2.5 million tonnes cwt. The fall in beef production and subsequent decline in exports reflects the intention of Argentinean producers to rebuild the cattle herd, which underwent liquidation during 2009 due to the severe drought.

In comparison to the record high export year of 2005 (437,547 tonnes swt) and to that of 2009 (379,290 tonnes swt), beef exports were 70 per cent and 66 per cent lower, respectively, in 2011. Furthermore, government intervention to increase the available domestic supply, combined with uncertainty over future government policies, has also underpinned the lower export volumes.

Total exports to Germany (25,127 tonnes swt) and Israel (24,330 tonnes swt) during 2011 declined five per cent and eight per cent year-on-year, respectively, while shipments to Chile (21,876 tonnes swt) increased 22 per cent over the same period. The rise in exports to Chile was almost exclusively in chilled product, with volumes increasing 24 per cent year-on-year, to 21,589 tonnes swt. Exports to Russia over the past few years have fallen considerably, particularly from the 171,000 tonnes swt sent in 2006 and the 139,000 tonnes swt shipped in 2009. Total volumes sent in 2011 were 15,431 tonnes swt – 47 per cent lower than 2010.

Despite the reduction in overall beef exports, chilled shipments surprisingly increased one per cent, to 62,846 tonnes swt.

Correspondingly, frozen beef exports fell 28 per cent, to 66,638 tonnes swt. Total export returns for 2011 increased 10 per cent year-on-year, to US$1.15 billion, with values improving across most major export markets despite the significant reductions in shipments.

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