Livestock exports lift

14 September 2017


Sheep exports in August totalled 228,500 head – the highest monthly export volume of sheep for the current calendar year. The religious festivals of, Eid al-Adha (Middle East) and Korban (South East Asia) underpinned the strong demand. Notwithstanding a significant increase on the month prior, shipments were still back 3% year-on-year.

The single largest recipient of Australian sheep in August was Turkey, with just above 78,000 head shipped. The last time Australian sheep were supplied to Turkey was May 2013 (ABS), with Turkey more commonly importing livestock from Europe and South America. In-market reports suggest the large consignment will be used for processing over the next few months.

Sheep exports for the calendar year-to-August now stand at 1.1 million head, back 9% compared with the same period last year. Exports to Kuwait and Qatar have accounted for 33% and 34% of total trade, respectively.

For the calendar year-to-August, sheep exports to Kuwait were just below 374,000 head, a 7% decline year-on-year. Sheep exports to Qatar totalled 393,000 head for the calendar year-to-August a lift of 8% compared with the same period last year.

Demand for sheep meat in the Middle East remains strong, the result of increasing disposable incomes, urbanisation, growing expat population and a developing tourism industry. Demand in Qatar is also being driven by preparations for the 2022 Soccer World Cup; significant numbers of expatriate labourers from the sub-continent are working on large construction projects across the country which has seen growing demand for imported product.


Feeder and slaughter cattle exports were just below 88,000 head in August, unchanged year-on-year. However, for the calendar year-to-August, feeder and slaughter cattle exports were down 33% compared with the same period last year, totalling 488,000 head. Australian cattle exports for the year-to-date have been challenged by tight domestic availability, historically high cattle prices, an appreciating Australian dollar and a host of in-market challenges. 

Shipments of feeder and slaughter cattle to Indonesia in August totalled, 76,500 head – the largest monthly shipment of cattle to the country in 21-months, supported by the seasonal increase as part of the religious festival Eid al-Adha and the requirement to re-stock feedlots post Ramadhan.

Year-to-August feeder and slaughter cattle exports to Indonesia declined 24% year-on-year, to 330,000 head. The presence of cheaper Indian Buffalo Meat (IBM) in wet markets across Indonesia continues to impact the sale of Australian cattle.

There were modest shipments recorded to Israel and Vietnam in August, totalling 6,000 and 5,000 head, respectively. In the three months prior (May-July), cattle exports to Vietnam were supported by shipments of feeder cattle, as previously-empty or new feedlots attempted to fill capacity in order to avoid land being returned to provincial governments – there was no recorded exports of feeder cattle to Vietnam in August.

Furthermore, high Australian cattle prices continue to be a contributing factor in the marked decline in the number of live cattle being sent to Vietnam and Malaysia. Lower priced Thai cattle are also increasingly meeting importer requirements in Malaysia and Vietnam.

Click here for MLA’s new-look live export statistics summary for August

Note: Indonesia and Vietnam cattle exports were revised higher in July

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