Mutton exports register first increase in 14 months

15 March 2016

Australian sheep slaughter declined 7% year-on-year for the first month of 2016, to 724,608 head (Australian Bureau of Statistics). As a result, total mutton production in January dropped 5% year-on-year, to  17,018 tonnes cwt, although remained 5% above the five year average. Furthermore, the average sheep carcase weight in January was 3% higher than the five year average, at 23.49kg/head.

Most states recorded lower production in January compared to last year, with the largest declines in NSW (down 12%, to 3,355 tonnes cwt) and SA (down 24%, to 2,451 tonnes cwt).  Mutton production in Victoria (6,914 tonnes cwt) and WA (2,902 tonnes cwt), on the other hand, increased 4% and 6% year-on-year, respectively.

In line with lower production, January mutton exports fell 16% year-on-year, to 12,247 tonnes swt (Department of Agriculture and Water Resources). February, however, marked the first monthly year-on-year increase in Australian mutton shipments in 14 months.

Mutton exports in February increased 3% on the corresponding month last year, to 14,687 tonnes swt, driven mostly by higher volumes to Malaysia – up 52% to 1,983 tonnes swt. Shipments to Japan (824 tonnes swt) and Singapore (853 tonnes swt) were up 288% and 41%, respectively. 

On a cuts basis, compared to last year:

  • Breast and flap jumped 16% to 2,129 tonnes swt
  • Carcase exports declined 3% to 6,500 tonnes swt
  • Leg shipments were up 3% to 2,411 tonnes swt
  • Manufacturing exports reached 1,480 tonnes swt, up 3%
  • Shoulder lifted 26% to 989 tonnes swt

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