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Australia may overtake US in China’s beef consumption: industry insider

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Beef products are sold at a local supermarket in Beijing in January 2023. Photo: Yin Yeping/GT

Australian beef may soon overtake US beef in the Chinese market this year, given improved bilateral trade relations, an industry insider told the Global Times on Wednesday, after demand for US meat surged last year.

The insider said on condition of anonymity that the restored confidence reflects improved bilateral ties between Beijing and Canberra, as well as the fact that Australian beef has competitive advantages.

Beef imports from Brazil were suspended over mad cow disease, which also offers more market potential for Australia, the insider said.

Beef imports from the US totaled 180,000 tons in 2022, a year-on-year increase of 24 percent, making the US the sixth-largest beef supplier to China, according to data a domestic industry association sent to the Global Times on Wednesday.

China imported 169,000 tons of beef from Australia, which makes up 6.3 percent of the domestic market, compared with 6.6 percent for imported US beef.

Expectations for a recovery in Australian beef trade rose after goods from the country such as coal returned to the Chinese market. Domestic companies are gradually regaining confidence and interest in Australian commodities.

In January and February, China-Australia trade volume achieved double-digit growth year-on-year, data from China's General Administration of Customs showed.

An employee of Australian beef producer John Dee, which was on the suspended list after the banned drug chloramphenicol was detected in a sample of its exported beef products, told the Global Times the company is ready and hoping for a trade resumption back to the Chinese market, which previously accounted for 20 percent of its global market share.

In 2022, the Chinese market consumed about 8.84 million tons of beef, which is expected to reach 14 million tons this year, domestic market research firm said.

Countries such as Argentina and Uruguay have seen a rise in their exports to China last year, and New Zealand, which exported 216,000 tons of beef to China last year, has particularly strong momentum for growth.

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