All in sheep shape

Livestock | 15th January 2024 | By Matt Dalgleish

Mutton Export Summary December 2023

December 2023 saw total Australian mutton export volumes lift by nearly 5% from the levels shipped during November with 20,799 tonnes swt reported exported from Australia, making a new December record export total for mutton exports after topping the 20,309 tonnes exported in December 2014.

Compared to the five-year average for December the 2023 flows were 24% higher and nearly 37% above the export volumes reported for December 2022. The strong finish topped off a stellar year for Aussie mutton exports with 209,580 tonnes of mutton exported over the 2023 season which is a new record for annual Australian mutton exports. Mutton export flows for 2023 were nearly 13% higher then the previous best year, which was seen in 2014 when 185,992 tonnes of mutton were reported shipped offshore.

China dominated the market share of Australian mutton exports in 2023 accounting for 46.5% of the trade, a big lift from the 39.8% seen in 2022. Malaysia took out second top spot with 10.2% of the trade in 2023, down from 12.5% in 2022. Third top destination for 2023 was secured by the USA on 6.6%, down from a 12.2% share in 2022. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia placed fourth with an increased share from 4.2% in 2022 to 5.7% in 2023.

A summary of the trade flows to the top four mutton destinations is as follows.

China – Demand for Australian mutton remained strong in China for December 2023 with 10,376 tonnes shipped making it the third highest monthly volume on record. Compared to the five-year average flows for December the final month of 2023 saw mutton export volumes 36% higher than the December average and 54% above the levels exported in December 2022. In total China took 97,481 tonnes of Australian mutton during 2023, nearly 20% above the previous record year in 2019 when 81,460 tonnes of mutton was shipped from Australia.

Malaysia – During December 2023 Aussie mutton exports to Malaysia eased 3% to see 1,583 tonnes exported over the month. Despite the drop in export volumes this still represents trade levels that are 26% above the five-year average for December and was 36% stronger than the volumes shipped in December 2022. Over the 2023 season Malaysia took a total of 21,414 tonnes of mutton from Australia which makes 2023 the strongest year on record, beating the previous best year (2022 with 18,046 tonnes) by nearly 19%.

USA – The USA finished 2023 is a strong manner with December 2023 mutton export volumes from Australia lifting by 92% from the levels shipped in November. The was 2,391 tonnes of mutton exported from Australia to the USA during December, which is nearly 12% higher than the five-year average for December. In total the USA accounted for 13,749 tonnes of Australian mutton exports for 2023, which is around 27% softer than the average annual flows seen over the last five years.

Saudi Arabia – Aussie mutton exports to Saudi Arabia hit 1,005 tonnes during December 2023, which was almost 3% softer than the volumes shipped during November. Despite the mild decline in trade for the final month of the year December volumes were still nearly 60% higher than the five-year average pattern and 111% higher than the December flows seen in 2022. For the entire 2023 season Saudi Arabia took 11,851 tonnes of Aussie mutton, which is the strongest annual trade volumes seen since 2018 when they took 12,070 tonnes.



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  • Exports
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