Tighter supplies underpin declining mutton exports

10 December 2015

Lower Australian mutton production during 2015 has seen monthly exports consistently below year-ago levels over the past 11 months. November shipments declined 20% year-on-year, at 14,584 tonnes swt, which brought the calendar year-to-date total to 135,934 tonnes swt – down 18% on the corresponding period last year (Department of Agriculture).

Both chilled and frozen shipments decreased 18% compared to November last year, with the volume of frozen mutton maintaining its 99% share of total exports.

Almost all cuts registered a decline in volume for the year-to-November, compared to last year:

  • Carcase – 59,571 tonnes swt, down 19%
  • Leg – 23,839 tonnes swt, down 18%
  • Breast & flap – 18,062 tonnes swt, down 17%
  • Manufacturing – 14,430 tonnes swt, down 8%
  • Shoulder – 8,389 tonnes swt, down 25%

For the January to November period, shipments to the Middle East (44,567 tonnes swt), China (25,595 tonnes swt) and the US (11,243 tonnes swt) fell 7%, 42% and 3% year-on-year, respectively. Volumes to Taiwan declined 20% year-on-year, to 5,758 tonnes swt, and exports to Japan were down 26% to 3,250 tonnes swt.

There was growth registered, however, in mutton shipments to South East Asia (23,382 tonnes swt) and the EU (5,057 tonnes swt) – up 1% and 32% on the corresponding period in 2014, respectively.

MLA’s 2016 Sheep Industry Projections forecast Australian mutton exports to decline further next year, to 127,000 tonnes swt, before starting to recover out to 2019.

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