Mutton supply contracts

24 March 2016

For the first two and a half months of 2016 mutton supply has tracked 2% below year-ago levels, totalling 884,436 head – the lowest start to the year since 2012.

Emphasising the tighter availability, the decline is 4% below the five-year average of 917,444 head.

As seasonal conditions in NSW have deteriorated from the wetter January, sheep turnoff at the saleyards has been higher year-on-year. Despite the very dry conditions in the south and west of the country turnoff is lower in WA, Tasmania, Victoria and SA.

Further to this, eastern states weekly mutton slaughter so far this year is down 21% year-on-year, at 109,298 head per week, or around 1.3 million head in total.

The lower saleyard throughput and slaughter levels point towards a swing back into normal mutton slaughter patterns after the high processing in 2014.

Regardless, the plateau in supply has helped keep prices stable, ranging between 260¢ and 305¢ nationally this year and averaging 286¢/kg cwt. Although this is lower than the same period last year, it is close to the five-year average of 290¢/kg cwt.

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