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New Global Snapshots released

17 April 2019

Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) has recently released new Global Snapshots for all three major red meat categories – Beef, Sheepmeat and Goatmeat.  The Snapshots offer detailed insights into how our product is positioned globally, as well as the challenges and opportunities ahead.


In recent years, Australia has grown and diversified its beef exports, which are now enjoyed in more than 100 countries around the world.  Australia’s growth and reliance on the global market has been critical to the commercial viability of the Australian industry, particularly at times of expanding production, but also comes with associated risks – such as the health of the global economy, currency fluctuations, market access changes and potential tides of protectionism.

Australia produces only 3% of global beef production, but accounts for around 17% of world trade and has remained one of the largest exporters for over seven decades. The global beef trade went through rapid change in the 1990s – roughly doubling in the decade to 2005 and almost again in the decade to 2015. Part of the growth in global trade has been facilitated by an expanding production base, but further compounded by an increasing portion of supply being exported: up from 5% in 1960, to more than 15% in recent years. Throughout this period of change, Australia has remained one of the top three largest global beef exporters.

Furthermore, demand for Australian beef is growing in key markets: in developing countries, such as China and Indonesia, consumers are increasing and diversifying meat consumption. In developed countries, such as the US and Japan, consumers are seeking higher quality and more differentiated meat offerings. Australia’s diverse production system allows the industry to target a broad range of these differentiated opportunities across markets.

The world has been an eager buyer of Australian beef – underpinned by strong animal health credentials, and world-leading animal traceability and food safety systems. In addition, Australia’s exports have become more stable following establishment of the World Trade Organization in 1995, and further bolstered by a series of bilateral Free Trade Agreements, notably with the US, Japan, Korea and China (which account for about three quarters of Australia’s exports), as well as newly implemented regional deals, such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Click here to read more on MLA’s Global Beef Snapshot.


The outlook for global sheepmeat demand remains largely positive, but it isn’t without risk. The Australian sheepmeat industry has completely transformed over the last three decades, with many producers transitioning from wool to an increased meat focus. Although the sheep flock declined from 170 million head in 1990 to an estimated 68 million head in 2018, lamb production has broken fresh records in recent years. Just as noteworthy has been the Australian industry’s expansion into global markets, breaking away from New Zealand to become the largest exporter of sheepmeat.

While sheepmeat may be big business in Australia, it remains a niche component of consumer diets around the world and is dwarfed by the beef, pork and poultry trades.

Australians eat little sheepmeat compared to beef and chicken but are actually relatively high consumers by global standards. On average, sheepmeat accounts for just 4.5% of global meat consumption and is near non-existent in many countries.

While largely void of any religious taboos, many consumers remain unfamiliar with how to purchase, prepare and cook sheepmeat, and consumption can often be concentrated within certain ethnic groups or foodservice channels.

Given the global rise in sheepmeat prices around the world, it remains out of reach of many consumers or is restricted for special occasions, such as religious festivals. Hence, having access to global markets and exporters being able to develop a suite of targeted opportunities is critical in maximising carcase value.

Click here to read more on MLA’s Global Sheepmeat Snapshot


The Australian goatmeat industry has seen substantial growth over the past two decades, with production tripling since the turn of the century. While the prospects for exports are positive, challenges remain in key markets.

Persistent dry conditions in 2018 saw Australian goatmeat production reduce by 26% on the year prior, totalling 23,400 tonnes carcase weight. According to NLIS data, NSW was the largest contributor to goat production, supplying over 60% of goats slaughtered in 2018.

According to Food and Agriculture Organisation data, Australia is not a large producer of goatmeat globally, but is the biggest player in the global goatmeat trade. Australia exported approximately 90% of production in 2018, with exports totalling 21,000 tonnes shipped weight, the lowest level since 2008 and 26% below 2017 levels, off the back of decreased supply. The US received 68% of Australian exports in 2018, with Taiwan, South Korea, Trinidad and Tobago, and Canada also representing important markets.

Click here to read more on MLA’s Global Goatmeat Snapshot