Lamb exports set sales record

by Editor
Monday, March 02, 2009

After a decline in 2007, exports of U.S. lamb and mutton muscle cuts set a new single-year record in 2008.

The volume of lamb and mutton muscle cut exports for calendar year 2008 increased 28% over the previous year, exceeding 5,000 metric tons. But the strongest growth was in value, which nearly doubled over 2007 by reaching $21.5 million – an all-time record for a single year. When lamb variety meats are included, total exports showed slower growth but still increased by 44% in worldwide value to more than $25.3 million – the second-highest total on record.

Lamb exports to the Caribbean were the largest factor, increasing 121% in volume and 240% in value over 2007. Bermuda alone accounted for about half the value of global U.S. lamb exports, totaling $10.65 million for the year. Other significant Caribbean destinations for U.S. lamb include the Bahamas, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and the Dominican Republic.

U.S. lamb exports to the European Union also showed strong growth last year, with muscle cut exports rising by 359% in volume and almost tripling in value over 2007. The Netherlands was the leading European market for U.S. lamb, with purchases of about $1.2 million. Italy was another strong market, importing about $536,000 in U.S. lamb.

According to Megan Wortman, executive director of the American Lamb Board, success in overseas marketing comes as welcome news for lamb producers. This is especially true at a time when all livestock operations are searching for new ways to add value and maintain profitability.