Australia still riding high on sheep’s back

Flock of sheep. | Newsreel
Australia remains the world's leading exporter of sheepmeat. | Photo: Tracie Louise (iStock)

Australia continues to ride on the sheep’s back, with latest data showing we remain the world’s largest exporter of sheepmeat.

New figures from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) show that global demand for Australia’s sheepmeat products remains high.

Federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt said elevated export prices for sheepmeat were expected to encourage processors to expand slaughter capacity, especially in early 2025 with the expected peak in US import demand.

Minister Watt said strong demand for both lamb and mutton from the Middle East and other emerging markets was also driving higher turn-off of sheep to be processed onshore.

“As a result, ABARES is forecasting that Australia will likely remain the world’s largest exporter of sheepmeat.”

He said although labour constraints remained in the processing sector, they were not expected to constrain growth in processing capacity during 2024–25.

“High slaughter rates reflect improved economic conditions in key markets supporting lamb demand and seasonal conditions in the east coast supporting strong lambing rates.”

The ABARES forecasts sheepmeat production volumes to rise by 2 percent to 937 thousand tonnes in 2024–25 and sheepmeat export volumes to remain elevated at 650 thousand tonnes.

The forecasts come as the ABARES released its latest Agricultural Commodities and Australian Crop Report which showed production in Australia’s agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors remained on track to be the third highest on record in next finanical year.

ABARES Executive Director Jared Greenville said the gross value of agriculture, fisheries and forestry was expected to increase by 2 percent, from $87.6 billion in 2023–24 to $89.5 billion in 2024–25.

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