Source: Canadian Cattlemen’s Association
Chinese beef imports had been growing rapidly over the past several years, and with the African Swine Fever outbreak, China had become a red hot meat export market. While China consumes almost half of the pork in the world, it is also the largest beef importer in the world. For example, according to the USDA Foreign Ag Services, Chinese beef imports in 2015 were 663,000 tonnes, and in 2019 are projected to be up to 2.4 million tonnes, with a further 20% increase in 2020 to 2.9 million tonnes. Canadian beef markets benefit through increasing exports to China and through higher global beef prices as beef from around the world flows into China.
Canada was exporting beef to China until the end of June, and at that time Canadian beef exports to China were up 300% in volume and 272% in value compared to the first six months of 2018. The value of Chinese exports accounted for 6.1% of total Canadian exports in the first half of this year. China was Canada’s third largest export destination. Given the size of the Chinese market, Canadian packers should be willing to step back into the market, which appears to be the case as premiums for Ractopomine free cattle are being reported.
In addition to the opportunities in China, Canadian beef trade has been performing well this year. At the end of September, total beef exports were up 12% in volume and 21% in value compared to last year, and volume was up 17% from 2017. This was the seventh consecutive year of larger beef exports. Exports to the US were up almost 8% in volume and 16% in value compared to last year, and accounted for 72% of all exports. Canada’s second largest export market is Japan, with exports up 59% in volume and 67% in value. Exports to Japan have accounted for 11% of total beef exports this year. After China’s closure, Mexico is Canada’s third largest market with exports up 7% in volume and 19% in value. South Korea is a smaller export destination for Canadian beef, accounting for just over one percent of our exports, but it has seen tremendous growth with the value of exports increasing 68% this year.