February 6, 2013
Australian lamb exports have continued the record pace of 2012 with the highest ever January total recorded to start 2013, while mutton exports recorded their highest January total since 2008. Lamb exports hit 15,212 tonnes swt in January, which is 45pc higher year-on-year and surpasses the previous January high set in 2008 of 14,566 tonnes swt. The two largest individual markets, the US and China, increased by 72pc (to 3348 tonnes swt) and 71pc (2694 tonnes swt) year-on-year, respectively. In the US, this was driven mainly by more exports of assorted primal cuts and leg, while in China most of the increase was in breast and flap (especially 9-rib flap) and 4-rib shoulder. There was also a notable increase in shipments to the Middle East, up 49pc on last year, to 4542 tonnes swt. This included a jump from almost nil to Bahrain in January 2012 to 1187 tonnes swt for the past month, comprising almost all lamb carcases. Similarly, there was an increase from 141 tonnes swt to 785 tonnes swt of lamb carcase to Iran. The United Arab Emirates also increased on last year, up 13pc, to 1180 tonnes swt, while shipments to Jordan fell 39pc, to 570 tonnes swt, particularly for forequarter and shoulder cuts. Other key markets in January included Papua New Guinea at 854 tonnes swt; the EU, up 11pc, to 743 tonnes swt; Hong Kong, up 78pc, to 500 tonnes swt ; and Japan, which fell 18pc, to 407 tonnes swt. Australian mutton exports reached 12,824 tonnes swt during January, 79pc higher than 2012 and the highest January total since 2008. There were large increases in shipments to Australia’s biggest mutton markets, including a more than five-fold year-on-year jump to China, to 3965 tonnes swt, an increase from 398 tonnes swt to 1,339 tonnes swt to Saudi Arabia and a 41pc rise to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), to 1,322 tonnes swt. There were increases in mutton shipments to China across a number of cuts, most notably carcase, breast & flap, leg, shoulder, bone-in loin and neck. For Saudi Arabia, most of the growth was in carcase, assorted primals, shoulder, leg and manufacturing mutton, while there was also an increase in mutton carcase to the UAE. A notable change from last year was a total lack of shipments to Bahrain, likely offset by an increase in the lamb carcase trade.