US imported lamb market update

22 May 2018

US weekly lamb imports increased throughout April, with imports from Australia averaging close to 40% higher in the four weeks ending 5 May. However, overall imports for the calendar year-to-date remain 5% below year-ago-levels.

The increase in supply from Australia has helped offset declining US lamb slaughter, which seasonally contracts during the Easter period. US lamb slaughter in the four weeks ending 12 May averaged 35,000 head per week, 16% lower than before the holiday period.

Market highlights for the May 2018 update:

  • High lamb prices, especially imported product, has limited retail features going into the Memorial Day weekend. Features during this time of year tend to be relatively limited as consumers have an abundant choice of cheaper proteins.
  • Cold storage lamb inventory at the end of March was 28.615 million pounds, 1.2% higher than the previous year. Seasonally, inventories increase into the US summer and autumn, in part because end users look to accumulate product for year-end holidays.
  • As US lamb prices decline, in part due to increased competition from other proteins, it remains to be seen if Australian imported lamb will be able to sustain the high levels established since the start of the year. So far, prices for racks are running between 16% and 24% above last year’s levels while shoulder prices are up as much as 25% year-on-year.

Click here to read the latest monthly US Lamb Market Update prepared by Steiner Consulting.

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