Lamb exports maintain momentum

06 July 2017

It was another strong year for Australian lamb exports in 2016-17. Volumes reached almost 240,100 tonnes shipped weight (swt) for the fiscal year – just 1% short of the record shipped in 2015-16. Taking a longer term comparison, however, 2016-17 sits 11% above the five-year average (DAWR).

The proportion of chilled and frozen lamb leaving Australian shores in 2016-17 remained in line to that of the previous few years, with 41% chilled and 59% frozen.

While the Middle East and US remained the largest markets (on a volume basis) for Australian lamb exports, Asian markets were the strongest performers in 2016-17 overall, with considerable year-on-year and long-term growth recorded.

Lamb exports to China reached a new fiscal year record, at 42,594 tonnes swt – up 18% from the previous year, and 24% above the five-year average. The past two fiscal years have seen a shift in the proportion of sheepmeat exports to China, from Australian mutton to lamb. In fact, in 2016-17, lamb accounted for 71% of total Australian sheepmeat exports to China – compared to the five-year average of 55%. This is in part due to reduced availability of Australian mutton, but also driven by changing demographics and preferences of Chinese consumers.

Shipments to Korea surged 59% from the previous fiscal year, to 12,156 tonnes swt – more than double the five-year average. This growth is underpinned by reducing tariff regimes and stronger demand for Australian lamb in the Korean foodservice sector, particularly lamb barbeque and skewer outlets.  Volumes to South East Asia lifted 11% year-on-year, to 14,833 tonnes swt.

Australian lamb exports to the EU registered 15% year-on-year growth, to 11,579 tonnes swt, although this was off the back of lower volumes in 2015-16. Compared to the five-year average, exports to the EU in 2016-17 were down 4%.

Lamb shipments to the Middle East in 2016-17 fell 13% year-on-year, to 58,743 tonnes swt. Volumes to the UAE (20,621 tonnes swt) and Qatar (15,274 tonnes swt) remained steady year-on-year, and Kuwait (4,678 tonnes swt) lifted 40%. Most of the overall decline to the region was attributed to reduced shipments to Bahrain and Jordan.

The 84% drop in lamb exports to Bahrain, to 651 tonnes swt, was largely due to the Bahrain government’s decision to remove subsidies on imported Australian sheepmeat. Volumes to Jordan in 2016-17 were down 40% year-on-year, to 9,049 tonnes swt. This was partly attributed to increased competition, as Jordan opened the market to importing live sheep and carcases from other countries.

Australian lamb exports to the US reached 52,757 tonnes swt in 2016-17. While volumes were down 2% on the previous year (which was a fiscal year record), they remained on a long-term growth trajectory, tracking 22% higher than the five-year average.

To view the June 2017 trade statistics summary please click here, or follow this link to read further on sheepmeat’s unique global position.


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