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MLA 2015 sheep industry projections July update

27 July 2015

Meat & Livestock Australia’s (MLA) latest sheep industry projections have been released suggesting that records are tipped to tumble again this year with increased lamb production and exports predicted. 

MLA Manager of Market Information Ben Thomas said the number of lambs expected to be turned off is forecast to match last year’s total and cascading from that, will be record production. 

“Lamb turn-off has never been higher in Australia which indicates lamb marking rates have improved considerably in recent years. This is the result of producers finishing lambs to slightly higher carcase weights.

“The progressive growth of the Australian lamb industry is really highlighted by the sustained increases in turn-off as well as the weaker A$ also helping bolster prices.

“Remarkably, lamb exports have continued to track higher over the last two decades. After the first six months of the year, exports are up 4% on last year's record, but this volume is also 31% above the five-year average and 42% above the ten-year average.”

Globally, the three key export destinations for Australian lamb will remain strong, taking 64% of all lamb exports. 

For the US, volumes are up 9% for the first six months of the year, despite high amounts of sheepmeat in US cold stores. Shipments to the Middle East have jumped 17%, while China has taken considerably less lamb compared with last year, yet the market still remains the third largest destination, taking 14% of lamb exports so far. 

Mr Thomas said after two high slaughter years, the Australian sheep flock was estimated to be back at a core breeding size, resulting in lower mutton production and a decline in exports to all major markets. 

He said domestic lamb consumption also looked likely to remain pressured by global demand, with the increasing volume produced in the next five years expected to be destined for international markets.

“Australian lamb prices have averaged higher year-on-year across the board, but seasonal conditions and global demand will largely influence the strength of the market going forward,” Mr Thomas said.   

Read the full 2015 sheep industry projections Q3 update.