MUTTON supply is tracking at its lowest level since 2012 and 2016 eastern states sheep slaughter is more than 20 percent lower than for the same period last year, Meat & Livestock Australia has reported.
For the first two and a half months of 2016 mutton supply has tracked 2pc below year-ago levels, totalling 884,436 head – the lowest start to the year since 2012.
Emphasising the tighter availability, the decline is 4pc below the five-year average of 917,444 head, MLA said.
As seasonal conditions in New South Wales have deteriorated from the wetter January, sheep turn-off at the saleyards has been higher year-on-year. Despite the very dry conditions in the south and west of the country turn-off is lower in Western Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia.
Further to this, eastern states weekly mutton slaughter so far this year is down 21pc year-on-year, at 109,298 head per week, or around 1.3 million head.
MLA said the lower saleyard throughput and slaughter levels point towards a swing back into normal mutton slaughter patterns after the high processing in 2014.
The plateau in supply has helped keep prices stable, between 260-305c/kg cwt nationally this year and averaging 286c/kg. Although this is lower than the same period last year, it is close to the five-year average of 290c/kg cwt, MLA said.