Strong growth in Australian lamb export markets

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 18th January 2012

Despite a fall in Australian lamb production during 2011, strong overseas demand and tight global supplies (particularly out of New Zealand) resulted in the third largest volume of lamb exported from Australia on record.


China saw a major jump during 2011 in Australian lamb imports, up 15 per cent year-on-year, to 29,620 tonnes. This is a region identified by both Australia and New Zealand as a key growth market for lamb (and mutton). With disruptions to New Zealand supply during late 2010 and 2011 (not least because the Christchurch earthquakes), Australian lamb filled the demand in Greater China.


According to export the latest export figures just released by the Australian Federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Australian lamb exports reported a three per cent increase during 2011, compared with 2010, to 160,007 tonnes – the third largest calendar year total on record (behind 2009 and 2007).

The largest export market for Australian lamb in 2011 was the Middle East, despite a 5 per cent decline year-on-year, to 34,987 tonnes. The Middle East ran ahead of the US market, with the US market seeing a 1 per cent increase to 34,334 tonnes. It should be noted however, that the US was Australia’s highest value export market for 2011, with a larger proportion of higher-end chilled cuts than the Middle East.

Australian lamb exports to the European Union lifted 8 per cent year-on-year, to 12,356 tonnes. The limitation on exporting lamb to this market, set by a tariff rate quota (of 18,786 tonnes carcase weight equivalent)), remains an issue for Australian exporters, particularly when compared with the considerably larger New Zealand quota of 227,854 tonnes carcase weight equivalent.

Of its smaller markets, Australian lamb exports grew 12 per cent year-on-year for Papua New Guinea to 10,212 tonnes; and Australian lamb exports grew 4 per cent for South East Asia to 9,585 tonnes. Meanwhile, shipments to Japan have fallen by 4 per cent to 7,381 tonnes.