Lamb & mutton slaughter up17 % yoy
Prices buoyant despite increased offtake
The value of the sheep, lamb and goat industries increased by an estimated 15% to $973 million, with increased supply of mutton and lamb and buoyant prices helping to support the industry. Demand remains strong, particularly for mutton, as demonstrated by a spike in export value. Goat production continued to decline from 2016 peaks as rangeland populations slumped in 2017.
Slaughter volumes increased, up 17% year-on-year to 193,033 tonnes of meat. Mutton slaughter increased 44% year-on-year, with dry conditions, buoyant prices and increasing feed costs all contributing to the strong supply. Conversely, lamb slaughter realised a modest production increase in 2017–1871.
Lamb weights were trending 9% higher than the long-term average, however throughput of light lambs in saleyards began to increase from April 2018. This was a reflection of dry conditions, increased feed costs and less appetite for supplementary feeding71, 69. Slaughter of goats in the eastern states declined by 4% year-on-year, in conjunction with a sharp drop in goat populations in 201771, 47.
The onset of dry conditions during 2017 contributed to a correction in lamb prices over the first four months of 2018, before recovering in May and June. Lower demand for restocker and feeder lambs meant average June prices finished 20% down year-on-year. Similarly, light lambs finished 4% down. Conversely, highly sought after heavy, finished lambs finished 2% up on average, buffered by strong export demand71.
Despite the dry conditions, mutton prices were reasonably resilient, with a correction in price in January before recovering to finish 4% down year-on-year.
Average fiscal year prices were reslient to increased supply, with all indicators except the restocker/feeder lamb indicator recording stable to slight increases71.
Overall, sheep and goat meat exports grew by 33% to reach a total value of $753 million. The majority of the growth was attributed to mutton, which continued to close the export value gap with lamb54.
Robust growth in demand resulted in China leapfrogging the US to become the major export market, with exports of sheep and lamb valued at $224 million, up 118% year-on-year54.
Global demand for sheep meat has gradually been on the rise with 2018 total consumption expected to increase by 15% on 2010 levels76. The driving force behind this demand is China as well as other emerging economies. The increase in demand has also coincided with a gradual decline in New Zealand exports, from a peak in March 201471, which has helped buffer local prices in the presence of increased supply.