Lit­tle change in pro­duc­tion

Shepparton News - Country News - - LIVESTOCK NEWS -

Sta­ble lamb pro­duc­tion and a slight de­cline in mut­ton pro­duc­tion is forecast for 2018 as pro­duc­ers con­tinue to ex­pand their flocks, ac­cord­ing to Meat & Live­stock Australia’s 2018 Sheep In­dus­try Pro­jec­tions.

MLA’s mar­ket in­tel­li­gence man­ager Scott Tolmie said while lamb and sheep slaugh­ter were both ex­pected to drop slightly in 2018, to 22.5 mil­lion head and 7.2 mil­lion head, re­spec­tively, car­case weights would in­crease.

‘‘We are fore­cast­ing a slight in­crease in lamb car­case weights in 2018 which will help off­set lower slaugh­ter, re­sult­ing in a sta­ble out­look for pro­duc­tion at 514 000 tonnes cwt,’’ Mr Tolmie said.

‘‘The story for mut­ton, how­ever, is slightly dif­fer­ent, with car­case weights ex­pected to ease from the record highs of 2017.

‘‘This, com­bined with de­clin­ing slaugh­ter, sug­gests we will see a small re­duc­tion in mut­ton pro­duc­tion to 177 000 tonnes cwt.’’

Mr Tolmie said the 2018 out­look for the Aus­tralian sheep in­dus­try was pos­i­tive, with the in­crease in pro­duc­tion and lift in prices recorded in 2017 un­der­pin­ning the mar­ket’s cur­rent strength.

‘‘With flat to de­clin­ing pro­duc­tion forecast this year, com­bined with strong, on­go­ing in­ter­na­tional de­mand, lamb and mut­ton prices should con­tinue to see strong sup­port this year,’’ he said.

‘‘Con­sumer de­mand for lamb has been strong, with ex­ports hit­ting record highs in 2017 at 251 000 tonnes cwt as well as main­tain­ing do­mes­tic con­sump­tion lev­els de­spite in­creases in av­er­age re­tail prices.

‘‘While lamb ex­ports are ex­pected to draw back slightly in 2018 to 244 000 tonnes swt, this is still four per cent above the five-year av­er­age.’’

Mut­ton ex­ports are also likely to re­duce as a re­sult of de­creas­ing slaugh­ter flow­ing through to a de­cline in pro­duc­tion. China, Malaysia and Saudi Ara­bia re­main the ma­jor ex­port mar­kets for mut­ton, and to­gether ac­count for more than 40 per cent of Aus­tralian ex­ports.

Mr Tolmie said that al­though 2018 should see a slight drop in over­all sheep­meat pro­duc­tion, it was forecast to rise again in 2019 as the na­tional flock grows.

‘‘Lamb car­case weights for the year are ex­pected to av­er­age around 22.9 kg, con­tin­u­ing the up­ward tra­jec­tory of the last 10 years.’’

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