Saudi Arabia’s strong demand has been the catalyst for growth, as a bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)-related ban on Brazilian beef in late 2012 resulted in a gap in the market, which opened up an opportunity for Australian beef.
During the past five years, Australian beef exports to Saudi Arabia have averaged 4,256 tonnes swt. However, for the first four months of 2013, Australian exports totaled 9,223 tonnes swt – breaking previous records and up more than eight-fold year-on-year.
Saudi Arabia, which has traditionally been a large sheepmeat market, has become Australia’s largest beef market in the Middle East in 2013, which illustrates the impacts of the restrictions placed on Brazil and the US.
Sheepmeat exports have also surged this year, led by strong growth in lamb exports to Bahrain and Iran. Australian lamb exports to Bahrain totaled 9,713 tonnes swt in 2012-13, up from 229 tonnes swt in 2011-12. Exports to Iran, although sporadic, totaled 7,317 tonnes swt in 2012-13, up more than two-fold year-on-year, while shipments to Kuwait increased 77 percent, to 3,833 tonnes swt.
Australia’s largest lamb market remains the UAE, which accounts for 25 percent of Australian exports. Jordan (20 percent) also ordered large amounts of Australian lamb.