AUSTRALIAN lamb prices continue to roar through the roof with almost daily records at sale yards in New South Wales.
The national record was broken at Tamworth with a sale of A$292 (£164.70) and then reset again the same week when the Wagga Wagga sale saw 14 Poll Dorset cross lambs sold for A$297.60 (£167.52).
Earlier, Wagga Wagga held the national record for a day with $281.20 (£158.61) for crossbred lambs. But then the Griffith sale yard scored A$284 (£160.19), only to see Tamworth top that.
Heavy Merino lambs sold at Griffith reached A$252, (£142.13) an Australian record for Merinos. Meat and Livestock Australia says the market dynamics aren’t restricted to Australia.
New Zealand, Australia’s principal competitor on the export market, is pushing similar extremes with lamb prices, converted into Australian dollars, average a record $7.29 (£4.11) a kg, up 15% year-on-year and close to parity with the Australian lamb market.
Australia and New Zealand account for about 70% of the global sheep meat trade, and more so when it comes to exports of high quality prime lamb. The remaining trade is largely contained to a regional level
“Put simply, while some production growth is expected out of Oceania, the region cannot keep up with increasing global demand,” MLA says.
With Australian lamb kills contracting and New Zealand nearing the bottom of its seasonal trough, neither country is able to keep up with export demand and prices have surged.
Australian lamb exports lifted 12 per cent in 2017-18, reaching a record 270,000 tonnes, led by strong demand from the US and China.
Mutton exports jumped 32 per cent to 161,000 tonnes, reflecting on-going dry conditions and an export market ready to purchase any additional volume.
MLA says that in the 12-months to May, export value increased 23 per cent over the same period last year, to an unprecedented A$3.2 billion (£1.8 billion) and reflective of an overall rise in average unit export prices.
“However, there are a few risks around – reaching a price ceiling that consumers are willing to pay and sheep meat getting caught up in the ongoing trade wars or economic shocks, particularly a slowdown in China, the biggest imported sheep meat market in the world,” MLA says.