Market watch: Lamb and mutton exports

09 May 2018

Increased processing in April saw lamb and mutton export volumes track well above year-ago levels. For lamb, all of the major markets recorded growth for the month, while the increase in mutton shipments was driven largely by Asian markets.


Australian lamb exports hit 22,581 tonnes shipped weight (swt) in April, up 32% year-on-year (DAWR). Volumes to the Middle East lifted 46% from April last year, to 6,319 tonnes swt, and shipments to the US increased 26%, to 4,370 tonnes swt. China was not far behind, at 4,245 tonnes swt, up 6% from year-ago levels.

Other notable increases for the month were:

  •      Japan, up 52% to 1,254 tonnes swt
  •      EU, up 97% to 1,050 tonnes swt

This growth in April brought the year-to-date total to 87,644 tonnes swt, 9% higher than the corresponding period last year. Japan has been a big mover for the year so far, up 47% for the four-month period to 4,356 tonnes swt.

Shipments to the Middle East are also tracking well above (20%) year-ago levels for the year-to-date, at 23,086 tonnes swt. Lamb exports to the US (18,292 tonnes swt) and China (17,267 tonnes swt) lifted 3% and 4% year-on-year, respectively.

The value of lamb exports for the January to March period (latest available ABS data) was close to A$532 million, up 9% year-on-year, with the average unit value lifting 8% to $8/kg.


The volume of mutton that left Australian shores in April was 31% greater than the same time last year at 11,596 tonnes swt.

This increase was primarily underpinned by growth to key Asian markets, namely China which lifted 94%, to 2,119 tonnes swt, Malaysia and Taiwan, which both more than doubled year-on-year, to 1,680 tonnes swt and 648 tonnes swt, respectively. Japan recorded an almost three-fold increase, to 489 tonnes swt. The Middle East and the US, on the other hand, declined 4% and 37%, to 3,766 tonnes swt and 567 tonnes swt, respectively.

This brought the total for the first months of the year to 52,409 tonnes swt – 14% higher than year-ago levels. The trade for the January to March period (latest available ABS data) returned A$252 million, an increase of 20% year-on-year. The average mutton export unit value lifted 5%, to average $5.73/kg.

For a more detailed look at Australian sheepmeat exports, view MLA’s export summaries.

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