Know the numbers: State of the Industry Report 2018

19 September 2018

The Australian red meat and livestock industry State of the Industry Report 2018 is being launched tonight (Wednesday 19 September) by Red Meat Advisory Council (RMAC) at a special event at Parliament House, Canberra.

The report, compiled by MLA on behalf of the red meat industry, is an informative reference document on Australia’s red meat and livestock industry, including consumption, production, exports, as well as the economic significance of the industry.

Here, Prices & Markets takes a look at some of the key findings from the report.



  • In 2017, adult cattle slaughter totalled 7.2 million head, down 2% year-on-year (ABS).
  • Australia exported 69% of total beef and veal production (DAWR, ABS).


  • In 2017, lamb slaughter totalled 22.4 million head, down 2% year-on-year (ABS).
  • Sheep slaughter totalled 7.5 million head, an increase of 8% (ABS).
  • Australia exported 59% of lamb and 95% of mutton production in 2017 (DAWR, ABS).


  • Goat slaughter totalled 2.1 million head in 2017, an increase of 7% year-on-year (ABS).
  • Australia exported 28,426 tonnes shipped weight in 2017, an increase of 6% year-on-year (DAWR).


Over the past two decades, global meat consumption has been gradually increasing. In 2017, as a percentage of total global meat consumption (excluding seafood):

  • Sheepmeat accounted for 5%.
  • Beef and veal accounted for 21%.
  • Chicken and pork each accounted for 37% (OECD-FAO).

Domestically, while beef consumption has seen a gradual decline, Australia remains one of the world’s largest per capita consumers at around 26kg of beef per capita (ABS, DAWR, OECD-FAO).

Australia’s lamb consumption has remained steady at around 9kg per capita, despite increasing retail prices, remaining one of the largest per capita consumers of sheepmeat in the world (ABS, DAWR, OECD-FAO).

Mutton consumption has all but disappeared domestically as the national flock size has reduced, the production focus has shifted and export markets have increasingly been developed for this meat.


Although Australia accounts for a small proportion of global beef and sheepmeat production, 3% and 7% respectively, Australia is one of the largest red meat exporters (ABS, FAO, DAWR, IHS Markit, Global Trade Atlas, Comtrade).

  • In 2017, Australia was the third largest beef and veal exporter, after India and Brazil.
  • In 2017, Australia was the largest sheepmeat exporter, followed by New Zealand.
  • In 2016, Australia was the largest goatmeat exporter globally.

The economic importance of the industry

  • Australia’s red meat and livestock industry turnover was $65 billion in 2016–17 (Ernst & Young, IBISWorld).
  • Red meat and livestock exports (including co-products) totalled approximately $13.3 billion in 2016–17 (IHS Markit, Global Trade Atlas).
  • Australia's red meat and livestock industry total value add was $18.4 billion in 2016-17, an increase of 61% since 2012-13.
  • In 2016–17, the Australian red meat and livestock industry created employment for around 438,100 people. Of these, just over 191,800 people were directly employed in the industry, and a further 246,300 people were employed in businesses servicing the red meat and livestock industry (Ernst & Young, IBISWorld).

More information:

You can find the full report here.

Back to News

Join myMLA today

One username and password for key integrity and information Systems (LPA/NVD, NLIS, MSA & LDL).

A personalised online dashboard that provides news, weather, events and R&D tools relevant to you.

Customised market information and analysis.

Learn more about myMLA

myMLA Sign Up

Already registered for myMLA?

Sign in here