biggest beef export in the world

The global meat market is shaped by the top 10 meat exporting countries. They are key in meeting the growing demand for meat worldwide1. Brazil, the United States, Australia, and Argentina lead in beef, poultry, and pork exports1. These countries have strong meat sectors that use modern methods and quality standards. They are big players in global agricultural sustainability, economic growth, and food security.

Rank Country Flag Exports (tonnes)
1 Brazil 🇧🇷 2,863,478
2 United States 🇺🇸 1,711,190
3 Australia 🇦🇺 1,333,001
4 India 🇮🇳 1,169,310
5 Argentina 🇦🇷 912,195
6 Netherlands 🇳🇱 653,346
7 New Zealand 🇳🇿 650,230
8 Canada 🇨🇦 628,151
9 Poland 🇵🇱 627,588
10 Ireland 🇮🇪 596,820
11 Uruguay 🇺🇾 590,502
12 Paraguay 🇵🇾 476,547
13 Mexico 🇲🇽 391,745
14 Germany 🇩🇪 378,994
15 France 🇫🇷 289,014
16 Spain 🇪🇸 284,379
17 Belgium 🇧🇪 199,275
18 United Kingdom 🇬🇧 187,175
19 Italy 🇮🇹 185,327
20 Hong Kong 🇭🇰 169,078

Key Takeaways

  • Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of beef, accounting for close to 20% of global beef exports in 20182.
  • The US is expected to be the top producer of beef in the world in 2024, with production of just under 1.2 million metric tons1.
  • Australia is the world’s second-largest exporter of beef, with major trade partners in Asia and the US1.
  • China is the world’s largest importer of beef, sourcing primarily from South American countries, Australia, and New Zealand1.
  • The global beef market is projected to grow from $395 billion in 2021 to $604 billion by 2030, a 5.5% CAGR3.

Brazil: The Global Powerhouse of Beef Exports

Beef Production by Country (2022)

Beef Production by Country (2022)

Source: FAO

Brazil leads as the biggest beef exporter worldwide4. Its agricultural sector, including beef production, has seen huge growth. From 2000 to 2021, the value of Brazil’s agricultural exports grew by 9.4% each year4. This growth has made Brazil the top beef exporter in the world, playing a big part in global beef trade.

Brazil’s Dominance in the Beef Export Market

Brazil is a clear leader in beef exports4. It’s the biggest net exporter of agricultural products, with beef exports making up 8% of its GDP in 20214. The agriculture and food sector is crucial, making up 29% of Brazil’s GDP4.

Major Export Destinations: China, Hong Kong, and Beyond

China and Hong Kong are top buyers of Brazil’s beef4. In 2021, they took 39% of Brazil’s agricultural exports and 70% of its soybean exports4. Brazil also exports beef to Europe, the Middle East, and other Asian regions.

Brazil, the largest beef exporter in the world, is a key player in beef exports4. With its large agricultural resources and strong demand, Brazil’s Brazil beef exports and Brazil beef export market are expected to grow. This will keep Brazil at the forefront of the global beef trade.

“Brazil’s agricultural exports show the country’s strength in farming and its ability to meet global food demands.”

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United States: A Major Player in Beef Trade

The United States is a big name in the global beef trade. It exported about 5.8 million metric tons of meat in 20237. The country sends high-quality beef cuts to many countries, with Japan and South Korea being the biggest buyers8. But, the US also buys a lot of beef, mostly lower-quality cuts, for its own use.

Exporting High-Quality Beef Cuts to Global Markets

The US has a productive cattle herd. It produces more high-quality cuts per animal than many other countries7. This lets the US send a lot of premium beef to other countries. Japan and South Korea are the main buyers, with purchases worth $1.9 billion and $1.7 billion in 2020, respectively8.

Balancing Imports and Exports: Meeting Domestic Demand

Even though the US exports a lot of beef, it also imports a lot, mainly lower-quality cuts8. This balance ensures a steady beef supply for US consumers. In 2020, US beef exports were worth $7.6 billion, making up 11% of domestic production8.

The US is the world’s biggest beef producer, second-largest importer, and third-largest exporter by volume8. But, the industry has faced issues, like the BSE outbreak in 2003-2004, which cut beef exports to $551 million9. Trade disputes also led to big losses for US pork exports, around $646 million from mid-2018 to 20199.

Despite these issues, the US is still a key player in the beef trade. It uses its skilled cattle herd and quality beef production to meet global and domestic demand7. The US balances imports and exports, playing a big role in the global beef market8.

“The United States is a formidable player in the global beef trade, exporting approximately 5.8 million metric tons of meat in 2023.”

Australia: Renowned for Premium Grass-Fed Beef

Australia is the second-biggest exporter of beef, sending out about 2.2 million metric tons in 202310. Its vast lands and mild climate are perfect for raising top-quality beef cattle. This keeps Australia at the top in the global beef market11.

More than 75% of Australia’s beef goes to four main countries: Japan, China, the U.S., and South Korea10. This shows Australia can meet the different tastes and needs of beef lovers worldwide.

Australia is famous for its premium grass-fed beef11. Big names like the Australian Agricultural Company (AACo), Teys Australia, and Stanbroke lead this effort. They use Australia’s natural lands and modern farming to make great beef for both home and abroad.

CompanySpecializationKey Attributes
Australian Agricultural Company (AACo)Premium Wagyu and Angus beefOldest and largest beef producer in Australia
Teys AustraliaPremium grass-fed and grain-fed beefOne of the largest beef processors in Australia with state-of-the-art facilities
StanbrokePremium grass-fed beefSpecializes in animal welfare and environmental stewardship
Australian Country Choice (ACC)High-quality beef productsFamily-owned company supplying domestic and international markets
Bindaree BeefGrain-fed and grass-fed beefOne of the largest meat processing companies in Australia

Australia is a top choice for premium grass-fed beef worldwide11. Its focus on animal welfare, the environment, and quality has made it a leader in beef exports11.

Even though it’s not the biggest beef producer, Australia is a top exporter of quality, grass-fed beef12. With beef production and exports expected to grow by 8% and 10% in 2024, Australia is set to stay a key player in the beef trade12.

“Australia’s beef industry is a shining example of how sustainable farming practices and a commitment to quality can elevate a country’s position in the global food market.”

Australia’s success in beef exports shows its focus on producing top-notch, grass-fed beef that meets global tastes101112.

Canada: A Rising Star in Meat Exports

Canada is now the fourth-largest meat exporter in the world13. It’s becoming a big name in the global meat trade. Canada sends out about 1.5 million metric tons of meat each year13. This is thanks to its focus on making high-quality, safe, and traceable meat.

Strengths in Beef and Pork Production

Canada is a leader in beef and pork production13. Its biggest meat plants can process over 65,000 cattle every week13. But, COVID-19 has caused a backlog of about 100,000 cattle13. Two big companies, Cargill Inc. and JBS SA, handle most of Canada’s beef13.

Canada also exports a lot of pork. Its strict quality standards have made it known for safe and high-quality meat13.

Adherence to Strict Quality Standards

Canada is known for its strict meat quality standards13. After a BSE outbreak in 2003, new plants were built to increase capacity13. But, many smaller plants closed due to challenges13. This focus on quality and safety has helped Canada in the meat trade.

Canada’s meat industry is in demand14. Beef prices went up by 31% in two years, making a rib roast cost $31.24 per kilogram14. This rise is thanks to growing demand from countries like India, Russia, and China14.

Bigger plants lead the Canadian meat industry, while smaller ones face challenges13. Building a modern meat-packing plant costs over $200 million, making it hard for small players13.

Canada is getting better at producing and exporting meat, making it a key player in the global market15. The trade deal with Britain has opened new doors for Canadian meat15. But, the dairy lobby’s concerns might affect the deal15.

“Canada’s negotiating objectives do not involve further import access to the supply-managed dairy market.”

Despite challenges, Canada’s focus on quality and innovation makes it a rising star in meat exports131415.

India: The Global Leader in Buffalo Meat Exports

India leads the world in buffalo meat exports, thanks to its large production and supply of “carabeef”16. From 1999-2001 to 2013-2015, beef exports grew from 0.31 million tons to an estimated 2.1 million tons16. This growth made India a key player in the global meat trade, especially for buffalo meat.

India has the world’s largest water buffalo herd16. Export-oriented slaughter and packing firms help move, process, and market buffalo meat to meet export standards16. In 2014-15, India exported a record 14,75,540 metric tonnes of beef17. This was the highest in a decade, but exports fell to 13,14,161 metric tonnes the next year, a drop of 11%17.

Beef exports went up from 2016-17 to 2017-18, from 13,30,013 metric tonnes to 13,48,225 metric tonnes17. But the value of these exports fell from ₹26,303.16 crore to ₹25,988.45 crore during the same period17. Indian beef suppliers mainly target low- and middle-income countries in Asia and the Middle East16.

Despite being a major exporter, there are concerns about the sustainability of India’s buffalo meat trade16. But, USDA projections suggest strong growth in demand for Indian beef exports in most markets16.

“India is noted as the largest beef exporter globally, primarily exporting buffalo meat worth approximately US$4 billion annually.”17

India’s rise in buffalo meat exports is thanks to its vast livestock, efficient processing, and targeting of developing markets. As the world eats more meat, India’s carabeef exports will likely play a bigger role in meeting this demand.

Argentina: Exporting Premium Grass-Fed Beef

Argentina is the sixth-largest meat exporter, focusing on premium grass-fed beef18. About 30 percent of its cattle now end their lives in feedlots, a big jump from none before18. This change shows a move towards more efficient farming while keeping its beef tradition alive.

Cultural Significance and Traditional Expertise

Beef is a big deal in Argentina, tied to its food culture and identity19. The country is famous for its asado, a barbecue that highlights the tasty, tender grass-fed beef19. Thanks to its vast grasslands and mild climate, Argentina excels in raising top-notch, grass-fed cattle.

Catering to Global Demand for Grass-Fed Beef

More people around the world want natural and sustainable meat, making Argentina’s grass-fed beef popular18. Ranchers say their beef tastes better because it comes from the pampas, unlike the corn-fed beef elsewhere19. Plus, Argentina’s beef is raised without hormones and less antibiotics, attracting those who care about health and ethics18.

Argentina stands out in the global beef market by offering premium grass-fed beef at good prices18. With 50-55 million head of cattle, it’s ready to meet the world’s demand for its beef20.

Argentina grass-fed beef

“Argentina leads the world in beef consumption at an average of 143 pounds per person annually.”18

As more people want grass-fed beef, Argentina’s deep knowledge and cultural bond with this product make it a key player in the global market.

European Meat Exporters: Germany and the Netherlands

Europe is a big name in the global meat trade. Germany and the Netherlands are top players. They are known for their high-quality meat products. These products are sold both at home and abroad.

Germany’s Reputation for High-Quality Meat Products

Germany is famous for its top-notch meat, especially pork and beef21. It’s the eighth-biggest meat producer worldwide, making about 0.8 million metric tons of meat each year. This includes 0.7 million metric tons of pork and 0.1 million metric tons of beef21.

The beef industry in Germany is varied, with big companies and small family farms working together. This variety adds to the country’s meat production.

Germany’s meat exports are in high demand around the world. The country’s focus on quality, sustainability, and advanced farming helps it stand out21. Its meat products are known for their high standards and are popular in Europe and other countries.

Netherlands: A Hub for Pork and Processed Meat Exports

The Netherlands may be small, but it’s a big name in the meat export market, especially in pork and poultry21. In 2023, it produced about 0.7 million metric tons of meat, with most of it being pork, around 0.6 million metric tons21. The country also made almost 0.2 million metric tons of chicken meat in 2023, showing its tech and expertise in poultry.

The Netherlands is known for its top-quality pork exports. It sells to countries like Germany, Italy, and the UK, showing its focus on premium meat products21. Its good location and efficient networks make it a key player in pork and processed meat exports in Europe and beyond.

Germany and the Netherlands are committed to sustainable and innovative meat production. This makes them leaders in the global meat market21.

New Zealand: Renowned for Lamb and Mutton Exports

New Zealand is a top meat exporter, with over 90% of its beef going to other countries22. It’s famous for its premium, grass-fed beef and lamb. The country’s vast pastures and focus on sustainable farming meet the global demand for natural and eco-friendly meat22.

Leveraging Natural Grazing Lands

About 70% of New Zealand’s beef comes from dairy farms, a shift that started in the mid-1990s22. The country’s strict quality and safety rules, along with its natural grazing lands, make it a leader in the meat trade. New Zealand’s beef and lamb have a light carbon footprint, making them a top choice worldwide23.

Meeting Demand for Sustainable Meat Production

New Zealand is the second-largest lamb and beef exporter, focusing on sustainable farming23. Most of its beef used to go to the U.S., but now China is the main buyer, taking about 72% of exports in 202022. China also buys a lot of New Zealand lamb, around 205,000 tonnes from 2018-202022.

New Zealand sends about 394,000 tonnes of sheep meat to key markets each year, with China and the UK leading in value22. But, it’s facing challenges with chilled lamb exports, which have been dropping for years24.

New Zealand grass-fed meat

New Zealand’s beef and lamb have a low carbon footprint, with sheepmeat emitting just under 15 kilograms of CO2 equivalent per kilogram. This makes New Zealand’s meat a good choice for those looking for sustainable options23.

“New Zealand is the world’s second biggest exporter of lamb and one of the largest beef exporters, emphasizing sustainable farming practices.”23

New Zealand is known for its quality and sustainable meat, especially lamb and mutton. This has made it a top choice in the global meat market222423.

Spain: A Major Exporter of Pork Products

Spain is a key player in the meat export market, especially with pork products. It is the world’s largest exporter of pork25. In 2021, Spain’s meat exports hit over 8,500 million euros, with pork making up more than 7,500 million euros25.

Spain is a leader in the pork export market. In 2022, it was the top exporter of pork products, with sales of US$5.9 billion26. This success comes from its strong production, with Catalonia and Aragon leading in pig production25.

Spain’s pork exports reach far beyond its borders. China buys nearly 40% of Spain’s meat exports, followed by France, Portugal, and Italy25. This shows Spain’s important role in the global meat trade, exporting seven times more meat than it imports25.

FAQ

What are the top beef exporting countries in the world?

The top beef exporting countries are Brazil, the United States, Australia, Argentina, Canada, India, and some European countries like Germany and the Netherlands.

Which country is the largest exporter of beef in the world?

Brazil leads the world in beef exports, sending out about 7.5 million metric tons in 2023.

What are the major export destinations for Brazilian beef?

Brazil’s beef goes mainly to China and Hong Kong, making up over half of its beef exports.

How does the United States rank in global beef exports?

The United States is a big name in beef exports, sending out around 5.8 million metric tons in 2023. Japan and South Korea buy most of the US beef, making up almost half of exports.

What is Australia known for in the global beef market?

Australia is the second-biggest beef exporter, sending out about 2.2 million metric tons in 2023. It’s famous for its high-quality grass-fed beef. Most of its beef goes to Japan, China, the US, and South Korea.

What is Canada’s role in the global meat trade?

Canada is the fourth-biggest meat exporter, sending out about 1.5 million metric tons in 2023. It exports beef and pork to the US, Asia, and other countries.

What is India’s contribution to the global meat trade?

India is the fifth-biggest meat exporter, sending over 1.3 million metric tons of beef in 2023. It mainly exports buffalo meat, also known as “carabeef,” to the global market.

How does Argentina’s beef exports compare to other major players?

Argentina is the sixth-biggest meat exporter, sending over 0.9 million metric tons of beef in 2023. It’s known for its premium grass-fed beef, which is popular for its natural and sustainable qualities.

What is the role of European countries in the global meat trade?

European countries like Germany and the Netherlands are big in the meat trade. Germany exports high-quality beef and pork. The Netherlands is a key player in beef distribution in Europe, focusing on pork exports.

What is New Zealand known for in the global meat market?

New Zealand is the ninth-biggest meat exporter, sending about 0.6 million metric tons of meat in 2023, mostly lamb and mutton. It’s famous for its premium, grass-fed meat products.

What is Spain’s contribution to the global meat trade?

Spain is the tenth-biggest meat exporter, sending about 0.5 million metric tons of meat in 2023, mostly pork. It’s a key player in the global pork trade.

Source Links

  1. World Beef Trade – https://www.iowafarmbureau.com/Article/World-Beef-Trade
  2. USDA ERS – Brazil Once Again Becomes the World’s Largest Beef Exporter – https://www.ers.usda.gov/amber-waves/2019/july/brazil-once-again-becomes-the-world-s-largest-beef-exporter/
  3. 15 Countries that Export the Most Beef in the World – https://finance.yahoo.com/news/15-countries-export-most-beef-181025270.html
  4. USDA ERS – Brazil’s Momentum as a Global Agricultural Supplier Faces Headwinds – https://www.ers.usda.gov/amber-waves/2022/september/brazil-s-momentum-as-a-global-agricultural-supplier-faces-headwinds/
  5. Climate risks persist for Brazil’s cattle sector but opportunities to transition present clear avenues for resilience and increased investment: Orbitas research – Climate Advisers – https://www.climateadvisers.org/newsfeed/climate-risks-persist-for-brazils-cattle-sector-but-opportunities-to-transition-present-clear-avenues-for-resilience-and-increased-investment-orbitas-research/
  6. Brazil: The World’s Granary – Global Leader in Food Exports – https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/brazil-worlds-granary-global-leader-food-exports-mello-commodity-jkluf
  7. Top 10 Largest Meat Exporting Countries 2024 – GeeksforGeeks – https://www.geeksforgeeks.org/top-10-largest-meat-exporting-countries/
  8. Beef 2020 Export Highlights – https://fas.usda.gov/beef-2020-export-highlights
  9. USDA ERS – U.S. Exports of Animal Agricultural Commodities Face Many Similar Threats and Opportunities – https://www.ers.usda.gov/amber-waves/2024/june/u-s-exports-of-animal-agricultural-commodities-face-many-similar-threats-and-opportunities/
  10. 15 Countries that Produce the Best Beef in the World | WorldClass – https://www.worldclass.com/journal/15-countries-that-produce-the-best-beef-in-the-world
  11. Australia’s Top 10 Beef Producers – ESS-Feed – https://essfeed.com/australias-top-10-beef-producers/
  12. Australia’s position in the global beef trade | Meat & Livestock Australia – https://www.mla.com.au/news-and-events/industry-news/australias-position-in-the-global-beef-trade/
  13. Three meat-packing plants turn out 85% of Canada’s beef. How did this happen? – https://financialpost.com/commodities/agriculture/why-only-three-meat-packing-plants-process-the-vast-majority-of-canadas-beef
  14. My beef with Canadian beef: It just keeps getting pricier – https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/food-and-wine/food-trends/my-beef-with-canadian-beef-it-just-keeps-getting-pricier/article32314676/
  15. Beef emerging as sticking point in free trade talks between Canada and Britain – https://www.pentictonwesternnews.com/news/beef-emerging-as-sticking-point-in-free-trade-talks-between-canada-and-britain-3624777
  16. USDA ERS – India Emerges as a Major Beef Exporter – https://www.ers.usda.gov/amber-waves/2016/july/india-emerges-as-a-major-beef-exporter/
  17. India’s beef exports rise under Modi govt despite Hindu vigilante campaign at home – https://theprint.in/economy/indias-beef-exports-rise-under-modi-govt-despite-hindu-vigilante-campaign-at-home/210164/
  18. World food prices endanger premium Argentina beef – https://www.theoaklandpress.com/2008/09/14/world-food-prices-endanger-premium-argentina-beef/
  19. In Argentina, factory farms replacing grass-fed beef – https://grist.org/sustainable-food/in-argentina-factory-farms-replacing-grass-fed-beef/
  20. Choices Article – Modern Beef Production in Brazil and Argentina – https://www.choicesmagazine.org/2006-2/tilling/2006-2-12.htm
  21. 11 Largest Meat Producing Countries in 2024 – Best Diplomats – https://bestdiplomats.org/largest-meat-producing-countries/
  22. New Zealand trade and production – https://ahdb.org.uk/trade-and-policy/news/new-zealand-trade-and-production
  23. New Zealand beef and lamb among the most carbon efficient in world – https://beeflambnz.com/news/new-zealand-beef-and-lamb-among-most-carbon-efficient-world
  24. Australian lamb and mutton dominate global markets | Meat & Livestock Australia – https://www.mla.com.au/news-and-events/industry-news/australian-lamb-and-mutton-dominate-global-markets/
  25. Spain: World’s biggest exporter of pork – https://euroweeklynews.com/2022/01/07/spain-worlds-biggest-exporter-of-pork/
  26. Pork Exports by Country 2022 – https://www.worldstopexports.com/pork-exports-by-country/
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