Sheepmeat shipments reach records
Australian sheepmeat exports in May totalled almost 43,200 tonnes shipped weight (swt) – the largest calendar month ever recorded for combined lamb and mutton exports. However, it was the lamb component of exports that underpinned the record. Lamb exports in May were recorded at 29,400 tonnes swt, easily surpassing the previous high set in March. Mutton exports totalled 13,800 tonnes swt, remaining consistent with previous months this year.
The record month brought year-to-date lamb exports to 117,000 tonnes swt, an increase of 14% on 2017 levels. This year-to-May total is the largest ever start to the year and has been driven by growth in all key destinations Middle East, China and the US.
A very dry year so far in key supply regions has seen slaughter levels tracking higher year-on-year. For the calendar year-to-April, lamb slaughter has lifted 8%, at 7.75 million head; production has followed the trend, also increasing by the aforementioned margin. Exports continue to benefit from the lift in supply but also reflect robust global demand for sheepmeat. In addition, further declines for the Australian dollar were sustained throughout May – as has been the case since the end of January – supporting exports.
May year-to-date lamb exports:
- Middle East, up 30%, to 32,200 tonnes swt
- China, up 10%, to 23,300 tonnes swt
- US, up 8%, to 23,800 tonnes swt
May year-to-date mutton exports:
- Middle East, down 10%, to 20,100 tonnes swt
- China, up 92%, to 14,600 tonnes swt
- US, down 9%, to 6,800 tonnes swt
- Malaysia, up 68%, to 7,200 tonnes swt