Sheepmeat's unique global position

04 April 2017

MLA's Market Information has recently released a red meat research report regarding the position and influences driving the trade and consumption of sheepmeat, globally.

Sheepmeat’s position in consumer diets around the world varies greatly, subject to a range of historical, economic, social and geographical factors. In a global sense, the product cannot simply be classified by whether or not it is a niche item. ‘Sheepmeat' encompasses a range of products; lamb, mutton, higher-value cuts, lower-value cuts, chilled, frozen – and each of these products hold a unique position depending on the country or consumer segment in focus.

Developing countries are driving the growth of sheepmeat consumption on a global scale, largely due to population growth, urbanisation and increasing incomes – ultimately though, the availability and its associated affordability is likely to be the key limiting factor for consumption.

Developing countries (emerging economies), such as China and in the Middle East, tend to have a stronger affiliation with sheepmeat through cultural and religious customs, with lower-value product a staple part of many traditional cooking methods. This is changing, however, as markets become more progressive (globalised).

In many developed countries, such as the United States (US), lamb is a niche product, not readily available or commonly consumed, except in certain demographics and minority ethnic segments. However, due to the size of the population, the US is identified as a potential growth market for Australian sheepmeat.

Contrastingly, the position of lamb in Australia (and New Zealand) is different from other developed countries, with strong awareness and preference for sheepmeat arising from a long history of production and consumption. In all developed countries, however, sheepmeat consumption is not so much affected by purchasing power, but rather consumer perceptions and awareness. These countries have a preference for high-quality product – and, in some cases, specifically lamb.

The unique features of sheepmeat demand and supply provide cause for optimism for future growth in demand and prices, though sheepmeat’s share of global protein consumption is likely to remain only around 5%.

To read more on MLA Market Information's red meat research report "Sheepmeat's unique global position", please click here.

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