GROWTH in Australia's export markets for lamb and mutton are a credit to our local producers and the efforts of Meat and Livestock Australia in promoting the industry's produce across diverse offshore markets.
The tighter supply of recent years combined with increased overseas demand has fuelled price gains for lamb and mutton at the saleyard.
Since 2012, annual lamb exports have exceeded domestic Australian lamb consumption. Export volumes of Australian lamb have grown significantly over the last two decades, compared to a relatively static level of domestic lamb consumption (Figure 1).
A comparison between volumes in 2000 to 2018 shows that lamb exports from Australia have grown by 139pc, while the domestic consumption levels have declined by 19pc. The situation for mutton exports is even more stark considering that in 2018 we saw 96pc of mutton production exported offshore, compared to 62pc in 2000.
While the export success has supported increased saleyard prices it has also made lamb less affordable at the retail level.
What does this mean?
The growth outlook in offshore demand for Australian lamb and mutton remains robust and while the flock remains in liquidation phase it will be some time before production expands. Prices are likely to remain firm and could extend higher in the coming seasons, pushing the traditional lamb roast further into luxury meal territory for local consumers.