February lamb exports leap into record books

02 March 2016

The extra day in February this year assisted Australian lamb exports leap into the record books, with monthly shipments exceeding the previous all-time February high by 12%, at 22,235 tonnes swt.

This was a significant jump, considering the February volume in 2015 was in fact the previous record.

The extra day was only one factor contributing to the substantial rise in exports, with higher lamb slaughter (up 5% year-on-year), a weaker A$ and lower NZ production all coming into play.

Australian shipments to the US in particular surged, with the February volume up 32% year-on-year, at 5,850 tonnes swt. This is a positive indication of demand leading into Easter, which is one of the peak lamb consumption times for the US.

Despite the woes of many Middle Eastern economies struggling and the potential for wavering demand as a result of the extremely low oil prices, February lamb shipments to the region lifted 12% year-on-year, to 5,233 tonnes swt.

Australian lamb shipments to China lifted marginally (1% year-on-year), which is encouraging as China moves out of the high-consumption winter. It also indicates the previously reported high sheepmeat volumes in China’s cold stores may now be starting to recede.

The EU is the only major market where February volumes declined compared to the previous year, with shipments down 16%, to 1,080 tonnes swt.

Looking forward, given higher lamb processing is expected for the coming 2-3 months, exports are forecast to follow suit.

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