Lamb exports finish 2016 stronger

11 January 2017

Lamb exports finish 2016 stronger

Seasonal increases in supply resulted in higher export volumes for Australian lamb in December 2016. Total December shipments lifted 20% year-on-year, to 23,236 tonnes swt, bringing the yearly total to 242,285 tonnes swt, 3% higher than 2015.

Lamb exports to the Middle East in December were unchanged totalling 5,102 tonnes swt, however exports for the whole year eased 9% year-on-year, to 62,134 tonnes swt, with the majority of the decline attributed to Bahrain lifting government subsidies for imported lamb.

Lamb shipments to the US in December lifted 24% year-on-year, to 5,964 tonnes swt, bringing the total for the year to 54,545 tonnes swt, up 9% year-on-year. The latest data released by the USDA indicates lamb and mutton volumes in cold storage in the US are steadily reducing as the year progresses – which is likely to stimulate import demand into the New Year.

Demand from China was mixed in 2016, with December lamb volumes up 38% to 3,757 tonnes swt. Total 2016 lamb shipments to China increased 25% to total 39,096 tonnes swt. However, mutton exports to China halved in December, to 1,756 tonnes swt year-on-year, with total 2016 volumes down 30%, to 20,353 tonnes swt. Nevertheless, the earlier than usual Chinese New Year in 2017 has reportedly spurred demand, with importers and in market reports suggest that importers are anticipating good demand for sheepmeat during the upcoming cooler months.

Australian lamb to Korea experienced significant growth in 2016. Total exports to Korea exceeded those of their neighbour, Japan (8,640 tonnes swt), in 2016, totalling 8,970 tonnes swt, lifting 43% year-on-year.

During December Australia exported 11,906 tonnes swt of mutton, back 21% year-on-year. This also saw total 2016 volumes ease 12%, to 132,199 tonnes swt. Underpinning the overall decline was Australian mutton slaughter tracking below year-ago levels, with average weekly eastern states 2016 kill levels down 21%, to 91,902 head.

Shipments to the Middle East also decreased in December to 3,805 tonnes swt, slipping 4% in 2016 to total 46,883 tonne swt.

MLA’s recently released export snapshots provide a regular up-to-date picture of Australia’s red meat export portfolio.

Click here to access the latest snapshots for: * Beef * Sheepmeat * Goatmeat To subscribe to the monthly edition of these reports email

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