Sheep meat market under considerable pressure

Sheep Central, July 3, 2020

DESPITE tight supply, sheep and lamb prices have taken a nose dive in saleyards across Australia this week.

Winter supply was anticipated to be subdued this year, and currently national sheep and lamb yardings continue to track significantly below year-ago levels. Last week, lamb yardings totalled 151,500 head, back 21 percent from the same week last year, with sheep throughput down nearly 50pc year-on-year to 44,400 head.

NSW was the largest contributor to total yardings at 107,400 head, 39pc below year-ago levels. Total throughput in Victoria eased 7pc year-on-year to 62,640 head, with SA recording a 62pc decline to 6755 head.

The key sales listed below from the week ending 26 June reflect the declines being seen, year-on-year:

  • CTLX Carcoar, NSW: 4600 head, back 4410 head
  • Dubbo, NSW: 9750 head, back 21,300 head
  • SELX Yass, NSW: 5932 head, back 5171 head
  • Wagga Wagga, NSW: 38,500 head, back 11,500 head
  • SA Livestock Exchange, SA: 3300 head, back 9700 head

This week has seen the eastern states market indicators plummet across all sheep and lamb categories. The decline in prices has been underpinned by reduced processor demand in the store market, while ongoing uncertainty in global markets continues to impact export demand for quality lamb and mutton.

Returns for well-conditioned export lambs have eroded in recent weeks.

On Wednesday the eastern states indicators were reported at the following levels:

  • Restocker lamb: 875¢/kg, back 43¢ on the previous week
  • Merino lamb: 747¢, back 57¢
  • Light lamb: 799¢, back 90¢
  • Trade lamb: 806¢, back 71¢
  • Heavy lamb: 774¢, back 63¢
  • Mutton: 639¢, back 17¢

Sheep slaughter has more than halved from year-ago levels

For the week ending 26 June, eastern states lamb slaughter eased 9pc from year-ago levels to 275,000 head, while sheep slaughter more than halved from the same week in 2019 to 43,550 head.

While higher than week-ago levels, all states expect Queensland reported significant year-on-year declines in sheep slaughter. Tasmania and SA saw the largest declines, back 98pc and 78pc respectively from year-ago levels, while NSW eased 59pc and Victoria was back 31pc from the same week in 2019.


Source: MLA


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  1. Patrick Francis, July 3, 2020

    It would be interesting if Sheep Central could investigate the impact of the cruise ship shutdown on demand for Australia’s high-value export lamb cuts and what this means for heavy export lamb prices paid by processors over the next six to 12 months.

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