Sheep notes

Sheepmeat exports

In 2019, WA exported a total of 84.1m kg (ceq) of sheepmeat, the highest on record and a 12% increase YOY. The main driver of the increase in sheepmeat exports was the increase in the export of mutton from 29m kg in 2009 to 44.2m kg in 2019 (Figure 5), an increase of 52% and the second highest on record. The highest figure on record was 44.3m kg exported in 2000 which just eclipsed 2019. Year on year, mutton exports increased 27%. So far, 2020 (Jan- April) is shaping up to be another strong year, having already exported 15.4m kg compared to 13.2m kg at the same time last year.

WA lamb exports reached 39.9m kg in 2019, down slightly from the 40.6m kg seen in 2018, but up 74% compared to 2009. Year to date, WA has exported 13.5m kg of lamb.

There has been a general upwards trend in both lamb and mutton exports over the last 10 years. WA lamb exports reached 22.9 million kg in 2009 but declined to 18.2 million kg in 2012. They then increased to 41.7 million kg in 2016 but declined to 39.9 mil
Figure 5 WA sheepmeat exports by quantity (Based on ABS data, DPIRD analysis)

The value of both lamb and mutton exports increased steadily over the last decade, as seen below in Figure 6, reaching a combined total of $596.6m in 2019, the highest on record, up 25% on the second highest value reached in 2018.

Since 2009, the value of WA mutton exports increased 210%, from $83.7m to $259.2m in 2019, easily the highest on record. Year on year mutton exports have increased 52% from $170.4m, which was previously the highest on record. This was due to increases in the quantity exported and price, and is reflected in increased adult sheep processing, seen in Figure 3 above. So far in 2020, mutton exports are valued at $96.1m, 49% higher than the same time in 2019.

The value of WA lamb exports has also followed a positive trajectory, increasing from $118.4m in 2009 to $337.4m in 2019, an increase of 185% and the highest on record. Year on year, there was a 10% increase in value from $307m in 2018. In the first four months of 2020, lamb exports have been valued at $123.2m, 8% higher than the same time last year, pointing to another strong year.

The value of mutton and lamb exports have increased steadily over the last ten years. In 2009 WA lamb was worth $118.4 million but has risen steadily to $337.4 million in 2019. Mutton exports were $83.7 million in 2009 but have also risen steadily to $259
Figure 6 WA sheepmeat exports by value (Based on ABS data, DPIRD analysis)

Over the last decade the growth of the Chinese market for WA (and Australian) sheepmeat in both value and quantity terms has been tremendous, as illustrated in Figure 7 and Figure 8. China has been WA’s largest market for sheepmeat since 2012. In 2019, China accounted for 37.6m kg (ceq) of sheepmeat, or 45% of the quantity of sheepmeat exported. This equates to a value of $237.8m or 40% of the total value of sheepmeat exports. There was also huge YOY growth in the Chinese market, especially since 2016. Between 2016 and 2019 the volume of sheepmeat exported to China increased from 12.8m kg to 37.6m kg, while the value increased from $39.6m to $237.8m, increases of 193% and 500% respectively.

To put this in perspective, Qatar, our second largest market, accounted for $76.2m and the United States, the third largest market, accounted for $63.6m worth of exports in 2019. This huge increase has been partly driven by the outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) in China. Traditionally, China consumes large volumes of pork, with per capita consumption at around 30kg a year, and China has the world’s largest pig population. Due to the ASF outbreak, it is believed 40–60% of the Chinese pig population has been destroyed, creating a significant protein deficit in the country. This has driven Chinese imports of pork as well as other proteins, including sheepmeat and beef, in order to fill the gap. It has also been driven by the growing class of wealthy consumers in China demanding higher value meats.

China is the largest market for WA sheepmeat increasing from 3 million kg in 2009 to 38 million kg in 2019. Qatar was 2nd with extensive growth in the last 4 years from 5.6 million kg in 2016 to 8.5 million kg in 2019. The US was third, then Malaysia, Sau
Figure 7 WA sheepmeat markets by quantity (Based on ABS data, DPIRD analysis)
WA sheepmeat markets by value between 2009 and 2019. China is the largest and has shown steady growth especially over the last 3 years from $75 million in 2017 to $237.8 million in 2019. Qatar was 2nd, the USA 3rd, then Saudi Arabia, UAE, Malasia, and 44
Figure 8 WA sheepmeat exports by value (Based on ABS data, DPIRD analysis)