The value of Australian lamb exports in 2011-12 increased 3% year-on-year, to A$1.09 billion FOB – the highest fiscal year total on record (Global Trade Atlas).
However, while values increased 3%, total shipments increased 11% (173,814 tonnes swt – Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry), signalling a decline in the per tonne return to Australian exporters for 2011-12.
Contributing to the lower per tonne return for 2011-12 was the high A$ and sluggish consumer demand in key markets, which had increasingly price conscious consumers favouring cheaper protein items.
Additionally, increased competition from New Zealand (NZ) lamb throughout the first six months of 2012 put pressure upon import prices in key importing markets, such as the US, Middle East and China.
The US was Australia’s most valuable export lamb destination in 2011-12, despite returns falling 9% year-on-year, to A$303.9 million FOB. For the same period, volumes increased 4%.
The US accounted for a 28% share in the total value of Australian exports for the year, back 3% on the previous year, reflecting lower US demand and prices for higher value cuts.
The Middle East continued its steady growth in 2011-12, with lamb exports to the region valued at A$249.6 million FOB – up 15% year-on-year.
Since 2006-07, Australian lamb export returns from the Middle East have increased 198%, or 166 million FOB – making up 23% of total export returns in 2011-12.
Export values to Greater China also increased in 2011-12, jumping 9% year-on-year, to A$118.8 million FOB – primarily made up of frozen lamb shipments.
Returns from South East Asia remained relatively steady year-on-year, at A$64.9 million – accounting for a 6% market share in both export volumes and values.
The value of Australian lamb to the EU in 2011-12 declined 7% on the previous year, underpinned by a 14% drop in export volumes.
The European market played a key role in influencing trade returns in 2011-12, particularly in terms of the impact on New Zealand (NZ) trade flows. As NZ’s major market, low demand in the EU, combined with a record high NZ dollar against the Euro, had NZ exporters diverting product to other major markets, which increased competition and influenced returns for Australian product.
The largest growth recorded in 2011-12 was the in the value of shipments to countries outside of the top five export destinations, amounting to A$258 million FOB, or 24% of total lamb exports.
Underpinning this surge was increases in the value of shipments to Japan (up 3%, to A$62.8 million), Canada (up 22%, to A$48.9 million), Papua New Guinea (up 21%, to A$39.5 million), and Africa (up 31%, to A$25.6 million).
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