Export Lamb

Australia manages more than half global sheep meat trade in 2023

Sheep Central, April 8, 2024


AUSTRALIAN sheep meat made up more than half of total global trade for the first time in 2023, according to Meat & Livestock Australia global supply analyst Tim Jackson.

“With Australian lamb and mutton production reaching record highs, exports have lifted substantially, resulting in Australia accounting for over 50 percent of global sheep meat exports in 2023 for the first time.

The large increase in exports has impacted our competitors, particularly New Zealand, the second-largest lamb and mutton exporting country,” he said.

“New Zealand’s exports have been affected by the increase in Australian supply, leading to a decrease in their market share in China.

“Additionally, supply chain constraints have hindered exporters’ ability to expand market share in other key markets.”

Mr Jackson said China, Australia’s largest market for sheep meat by volume, experienced a 24pc increase in total imports in 2023, reaching 429,434 tonnes.

Exports from New Zealand to China rose in 2023, but only by 10pc, he said.

“This meant that Kiwi sheep meat accounted for 50pc of Chinese imports in 2023, which is a considerable figure, but well down on the 57pc market share New Zealand held in 2023.”

”Instead, nearly all of the increase in Chinese imports came from Australia.

“Australian sheep meat to China lifted by 43pc%, to 197,448 tonnes,” Mr Jackson said.

“This meant that 71pc of the increase in China’s imports came from Australia, and Australia’s market share lifted to 46pc, the highest figure on record.”

Mr Jackson said the rise in Australian market share has been accompanied by a shift in export pricing.

“Historically, New Zealand lamb held a $1-$1.30 premium over Australian lamb in the Chinese market.

“However, this premium has largely disappeared since around 2022, with both products now competitively priced, primarily influenced by fluctuations in the exchange rate.”

Mr Jackson said while New Zealand’s exports to China face pressure from increased in Australian supply, supply chain constraints have made it difficult for New Zealand’s ability to expand market share in other regions.

“For example, Australian lamb exports to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) lifted by 51pc in 2023, totalling 58,516 tonnes, with chilled exports constituting 68pc of that total.

“This rebound in chilled lamb exports after COVID-related supply chain disruptions has enabled Australian exporters to meet the demands in markets preferring chilled lamb, such as many in the MENA region,” he said.

“In contrast, New Zealand’s exports of chilled lamb have been declining for several years, persisting through 2023, despite an overall increase in exports. This decline has prevented New Zealand from tapping into markets with a strong preference for chilled products, even during periods of high demand.”

Source – MLA.


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