Lamb export markets show weighty recovery

Stronger demand from US helping drive lamb prices higher

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STATION PEOPLE: Jamie Withers, Nalpa Station, Wellington, SA, with Fiona and Sophie Proudman, Adelaide, SA, at Mount Pleasant, SA.

STATION PEOPLE: Jamie Withers, Nalpa Station, Wellington, SA, with Fiona and Sophie Proudman, Adelaide, SA, at Mount Pleasant, SA.

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Key export markets for both lamb and mutton show significant signs of recovery.

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Australian lamb and mutton have both recorded higher year-on-year export figures signalling a significant recovery in the demand for sheepmeat.

Total June exports were well ahead of last year at 37.5 per cent higher than 2020 while this year June lamb exports were also 26pc stronger than the fiver-year average.

And according to Meat and Livestock Australia market analyst Stuart Bull the US and China continue to be the frontrunners when it comes to Australian lamb.

"That has been the case for some time, they typically depict a lot of the price movements coming out of the saleyards," Mr Bull said.

"They have developed a good taste for our product so we are looking to cater towards more of those premium food service types of outlets.

"We have seen heightened demand in recent times which has also helped to bring more lambs on to the market here in Australia."

And that's good news for growers, indicating the market should be able to cope with increased supply without prices falling too far.

Export markets will continue to soak up the extra supply as long as overseas foodservice markets remaining strong.

June saw US have its biggest month for Australian lamb exports on record with exporters sending 7842 tonnes of lamb to the US - a 73pc increase on last year, and a new record.

Mecardo analyst Angus Brown said the previous highest month for lamb exports to the US was in March 2019 and this June beat it by 11pc.

He said the increasing demand from the US can be put down to tight domestic supplies.

"The latest Steiner report on US lamb reported tight supplies of both fresh lamb due to processing restrictions and frozen lamb in storage," Mr Brown said.

Mutton exports were also higher in June compared to last year with the three largest markets - China, Malaysia and US - all taking around 30pc more mutton than last year.

But despite this increase, mutton supplies remained tight.

Mr Bull said the strong results this year are due to the low supply because of retention of ewes and breeding stock.

"It highlights the higher attention on-farm and the expectation for the flock to lift and to really see some solid lamb numbers coming through," Mr Bull said.

"But nevertheless, we are currently sitting around 693c/kg carcase weight and that's very close to record levels in 2020 just before COVID hit and things went south.

"Things look pretty promising, it would just be nice to have more supply to go with it."

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