Middle East maintaining high demand for sheepmeat

19 August 2015

Australian lamb and mutton exports to the Middle East during July were lower than the same month last year, but not as a result of a weakening in demand. Last July’s lamb exports were historically high – at 6,271 tonnes shipped weight (swt) – and this year was only 2% lower, at 6,156 tonnes swt. Mutton exports dropped slightly more – down 7%, to 2,978 tonnes swt – but this was more a result of a lower supply of sheep this winter, compared with last year.

With Australia’s lamb exports to the Middle East dominated by the chilled carcase trade, a 7% drop in this category was the largest influence on July shipments. Lamb exports, globally, were 17% lower during July, so the 2% drop to the Middle East is indicative of the ongoing demand for lamb. There was less shoulder and forequarter shipped this July, but more leg and shank.

As mentioned above, mutton exports have been limited by the availability of sheep for slaughter, and, like lamb, the drop in shipments to the Middle East was smaller than the change in total exports. Most of the decline in mutton exports was in the major cuts traded, including frozen carcases and legs, and chilled carcases. In most cases, other cuts (including manufacturing, bone-in loin, forequarter, and ribs), which make up smaller proportions of the trade, were higher in July.

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