Mutton prices in ‘sheep’ shape in 2015
17 December 2015
With lower mutton slaughter, continued global demand, and the stabilisation of the national sheep flock (70 million head), the eastern states mutton indicator increased 11% year-on-year, to average 343¢/kg cwt in 2015.
Encouragingly, the strong prices were despite many major southern producing areas having ‘average’ to ‘very much below average’ rainfall.
Mutton prices in 2015 were also 9% above the five-year average (315¢/kg cwt), although this is below the highs of both 2010 and 2011, where 372¢ and 413¢/kg cwt averages were recorded respectively.
With a contracting flock in the past few seasons, driven by higher slaughter and drier conditions across major producing areas, national sheep production was 160,980 tonnes cwt for the year-to-Oct – down 31% from year-ago volumes. NSW and SA recorded the largest fall in production – back 19% and 21% to 36,728 and 25,853 tonnes cwt respectively. Victoria’s decline of 4% year-on-year, to 63,541 tonnes cwt, was underpinned by fewer sheep processed.
In the global market, mutton exports trended lower (27%) from year-ago levels on the back of tighter production, at 135,934 tonnes swt for the first 11 months of 2015. Shipments to Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, have all declined year-on-year, with consignments to China decreasing the most – back 49%, to 25,595 tonnes swt.
Looking forward, off the back of lower Australian slaughter, mutton production is forecast to continue on a downward trend (13% lower year-on-year), to 173,00 tonnes cwt in 2016, before recovering to 198,000 tonnes cwt in 2019 as a result of the expanding sheep flock.
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