Positive outlook for Australia’s lamb industry

By Georgi Gyton

- Last updated on GMT

Lamb is expected to maintain a favourable position with the Australian consumer
Lamb is expected to maintain a favourable position with the Australian consumer

Related tags Middle east Lamb Livestock

Strong export demand coupled with producer confidence and a robust native market is shedding a positive light on Australia’s lamb industry, according to Meat & Livestock Australia’s (MLA) mid-year update.

Exports of Australian lamb are forecast to have another record-breaking year in 2014, reaching a potential 218,000 tonnes (t) swt – an increase of 2% on the previous record set in 2013.

Tim McRae, manager for market information and analysis at the MLA, said: "Lamb is expected to maintain its favourable position with the Australian consumer while globally, demand from the US, China and the Middle East remains strong, making up 66% of total exports.

"In 2014 Australian lamb exports to the Middle East are on track to reach 61,000t swt, and lamb exports to the US are forecast to grow 8%, to 42,500t swt – the highest annual total to the US since 2007."

He said China would also continue to play an important role for Australian sheepmeat, with exports consistently up on levels seen in the comparable period last year. Reduced availability of New Zealand lamb throughout the year has also benefited the sector, said the MLA.

However, exports of mutton look set to decline 7% this year, to 160,000t swt. Mutton slaughter is forecast to total 8.9m head – significantly higher than the initial forecast in January, mainly due to drought conditions in the early part of the year.

Live export demand has witnessed a steady recovery, said McRae, which has been underpinned by the reopening of potentially large markets, such as the Middle East, "and these recent market access improvements should see live sheep export numbers continue to increase through to 2020"​. The prediction for this year is that numbers will reach 2.3m head – a 16.6% increase year-on-year.

Lamb slaughter numbers are expected to be down 3% to 21.1m on the record 2013 numbers of 21.9m head, and are forecast to fall in 2015 to 20.7m head.

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