Lamb exports to China up by 47 per cent while US falls

A total of 31,779 tonnes of Australian lamb were exported in August, 21 per cent more than August 2022 and the highest monthly export volume on record.

This was the most eye-catching figure in the August export figures but sits alongside strong export growth in all categories: beef exports were at their highest since 2019, mutton exports increased by 29% YoY and goat exports rose by 22% to 2,855 tonnes, the strongest August since 2014.

The largest market for Australian lamb in August was China, where exports rose by 47% YoY to 7,310 tonnes. At the same time, exports to the United States eased by 10% YoY to 6,397 tonnes, remaining the second largest lamb export market, as it has all year.

Substantial growth occurred in exports to the UK, where YoY volumes rose by 174% to 1,045 tonnes. While still relatively small, the substantial increase suggests that exporters are taking advantage of opportunities presented by the enactment of the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement.

Lamb exports have already totalled 205,111 tonnes this year, seeing a 10% increase to the same period in 2022, a year in which exports hit a historic high. The increase in exports suggests that Australia is set to break lamb export records again.

Between 2018 and 2022, in a calendar year around 64% of sheepmeat exports occur between January and August. So far this year, 275,508 tonnes of sheepmeat have been exported.

In the July sheep projections update, we forecast total sheepmeat exports for the year at 462,000 tonnes, and year-to-August exports are currently 73% of that figure, suggesting that sheepmeat exports are running ahead of expectations.

In the same way, between 2018 and 2022, around 64% of beef exports occur between January and August this year, 678,038 tonnes of beef have been exported – around 64% of the 1.06 million tonnes forecast in the June cattle projections update, which suggests that beef exports are more or less on track.