The red meat industry

Australia’s red meat and livestock industry makes a significant contribution to the Australian economy.

Through close to 82,500(1) Australian businesses, the red meat and livestock industry contributed $18.4 billion(1) to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – or 1.6% of Australia’s key industry GDP – and generated $13.3 billion(2) in export revenue through the supply of products to more than 100 global markets in 2016-17.

In 2016-17, the Australian red meat and livestock industry created (direct and indirect) employment for approximately 438,100 people(1)

Australia was the world’s third largest beef exporter (after Brazil and India) in 2017(3), and the largest exporter of sheepmeat in 2016(4)

Download the State of the Industry Report: The Australian Red Meat and Livestock Industry

Australia’s beef industry

  • The gross value of Australian cattle and calf production (including live cattle exports) in 2017–18 was $11.4 billion(8).
  • In 2016–17, the Australian red meat and livestock industry directly employed just over 191,800 people(1).
  • Australia was the world’s third largest beef and veal exporter in 2017, after India and Brazil (9) . 

Find out fast facts about the beef cattle industry

Australia’s sheepmeat industry

  • In 2017–18, Australia exported 61% of total Australian lamb production and 96% of total Australian mutton production(7).
  • Domestic expenditure was estimated at around $2.2 billion on lamb and $47 million on mutton in 2017–18(6).
  • Australia was the largest exporter of sheepmeat in the world in 2017 (9).  

Find out fast facts about the sheepmeat industry

Australia’s goatmeat industry

  • In 2017, goat production was 4% higher than the previous year, totalling 31,000 tonnes carcase weight (cwt).
  • Globally, Australia is a minor producer of goatmeat but one of the biggest exporters.
  • Unlike sheep and lamb, goat carcase weights have had little influence on production figures, hovering between 15–16kg, as they have been for the past decade.

Find out fast facts about the goatmeat industry

Sharing red meat’s story

In August 2018, MLA launched a new online platform that provides consumers with an open and trusted source of information about the production of beef, sheep and goat meat in Australia.

Good Meat demonstrates how Australian red meat is produced sustainably, in high welfare systems and is an important part of a healthy balanced diet.

Good Meat is also home to a range of educational resources including study guides, classroom posters, lesson and activity sheets, virtual farm visits, digital lessons and online board games.

Visit the Good Meat website


Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2015-16 Agricultural Census

(1) EY, ABS, IBISWorld



(4) DAWR, Stats NZ, FAO


(6) ABS


(8) ABARES Agricultural Commodities 2018

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