Australian beef exports, particularly for boxed beef, have increased dramatically among all red meat and livestock exports in the past decade. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia have consistently been among Australia's top 20 most valuable beef export markets for the past eight years. The Mintec price for beef in Australia reached AUD 690/100 kg, up 5.3% week-on-week and 5.1% year-on-year (y-o-y) in October 2022, on the back of rising exports.
Traditionally, the UAE and Saudi Arabia's beef import volumes have been dominated by India and Brazil, due to the price sensitive nature of the Middle East market. However, Western-style food services have developed rapidly in the past decade, because of accelerated economic growth driven by high urbanisation, increasing disposable incomes, and expanding tourism. This has resulted in more demand for higher quality grades and cuts of beef. Also, Saudi Arabia's ban on Brazilian beef, between 2013 and 2015 due to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or Mad Cow Disease), increased Australian beef shipments to Saudi Arabia. Australia competes in the premium beef segment with countries such as the US, South Africa, New Zealand and the EU.
In 2022, Australian beef exports are estimated to reach 1.5 million tonnes, up 15.4% y-o-y on the back of an expected increase in Australian beef production. As a result, the UAE and Saudi Arabia are likely to continue to be valuable and growing beef markets for Australia.