AUSTRALIA, North Sydney Australian mutton exports finished 2014 with the largest monthly volume since November 1994 and 9% higher year-on-year, hitting 20,309 t swt in December.
The surge in shipments was largely attributed to the Middle East taking 47% more mutton during the month compared to the previous year, at 5,077 tonnes swt, as well as volumes to South East Asia increasing 41%, to 3,114 t swt. Demand from the US remained strong, with exports almost tripling the corresponding month in 2013, at 1,623 t swt. In contrast, volumes to China during December declined 19% year-on-year, to 6,047 tonnes swt.
With most of the key export destinations registering solid growth in demand for Australian mutton throughout the year, the total shipment in 2014 reached 185,992 t swt – the highest volume in the last two decades.
The Middle East was the largest market for 2014, with exports totalling 52,800 t swt for the year, up 29% on 2013 levels, while China followed closely behind, at 50,064 t swt – 14% lower than the previous year. Shipments to South East Asia increased 23% in 2014, to 27,362 tonnes swt, and solid demand from the US saw volumes lift 52%, to 13,273 t swt.
Mutton to the EU declined 5% year-on-year, to 4,716 tonnes swt, while exports to Japan (5,117 t swt) and Mexico (3,715 t swt) were up 35% and 28%, respectively.
Following a year of very high sheep slaughter, it is likely that there will be a contraction in mutton export volumes in 2015.