AUSTRALIA's beef industry will export 975,000 tonnes this year, setting a new record.
But with the US one of Australia's largest customers - and competitors - for beef, the ride could be a rocky road this year.
Meat and Livestock Australia released its cattle projections on Monday, and chief economist Tim McRae said a highlight was increased beef going to the US.
"When we did our early projections, we didn't have such a big jump factored in, but boosted sales late last year gave us confidence the US market was going to grow substantially," Mr McRae said.
"And while we're coming off a low base, the predicted 28 per cent increase is still good."
MLA estimated the US would import 215,000 tonnes of Australian beef this year, dominated by manufacturing beef sales.
It would go someway to making up the shortfall of this class of beef, as the US herd falls to its lowest levels for decades.
"I was reading something that showed the US herd could be the lowest its been for 60 years and so there is a shortage of lean cow beef in their own (domestic) market," he said.
But while the US herd might be languishing, it was still the world's major beef exporter and a major threat to Australia's two biggest markets.
The weak US dollar was expected to play a big role this year and MLA predicted exports to Australia's two biggest customers - Japan and Korea - would fall.
MLA estimated exports to Japan would fall 4 per cent this year to 330,000 tonnes, on the back of a 4 per cent drop last year.
But there were predictions that the Korean market would slide 15 per cent this year, to 125,000 tonnes, as cheaper product from the US takes the place of Australian beef.
However, total beef exports were expected to rise this year by 3.1 per cent, with other markets expected to pick up the slack from Japan and Korea.
This would make it the biggest export year ever for Australia's beef industry.
The Australian cattle herd was forecast to continue to grow, with estimates it would reach 30 million this year, and 31.5 million by 2016. But this was largely lead by growth in the Northern Territory, which, combined with Queensland, was now home to 52 per cent of the national herd.
In contrast, Victorian and NSW numbers fell 8 per cent and 6 per cent since 2006.