The value of Victoria's beef exports increased by 35 per cent in 2018-19, with China a key driver of the increase, according to the Victorian Food and Fibre Export Performance Report 2018-19.
Beef exports totalled 1.76 billion tonnes — 1.66 billion tonnes of fresh or frozen beef, while live animals made up the remainder.
The report said "many factors kept meat export prices buoyant including strong demand for red meat from key export markets, a relatively low Australian dollar and increased slaughter numbers due to dry seasonal conditions across large areas of eastern Australia".
While ongoing drought and dry conditions took their toll on the total volume of food and fibre exported, the high market value of beef, sheep and dairy products helped the state’s overall result — with food and fibre contributing $14.2 billion to the state’s economy.
The meat industry is still the leading sector, with exports increasing in value by 23 per cent to $4.1 billion.
The United States remains Victoria’s largest meat export destination at $1.019 billion, while China’s demand for Victorian produce increased by 45 per cent with exports valued at $687 million.
Victoria’s horticulture businesses are also growing their global footprint, with exports increasing in value by 38 per cent to $1.6 billion.
Grain exports were the worst-affected by drought, with most of Victoria’s reserves traded domestically instead of internationally, to assist other states also suffering through a national drought.