Record lamb exports

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Increased supplies and the export of record volumes when the Australian dollar was still trading well above parity pushed livestock prices lower.

For an export-dependent industry, a high Australian dollar needs to be offset by lower livestock prices (and vice versa) for the industry to remain price competitive.

The fall in the A$ throughout June, to well below US93�, will hopefully assist returns to producers.

Shipments were higher to most markets in 2012-13, with China and the Middle East taking record volumes for the year at 39,493 tonnes swt and 58,662 tonnes swt - up 24% and 37% on respective record totals last year.

Most other major markets took large volumes of lamb, with the US totalling 37,480 tonnes swt (up 8% year-on-year) and the Europen Union 12,157 tonnes swt (up 3%). Papua New Guinea took 13,428 tonnes swt (up 14%) and exports to South-East Asia totalled 9,968 tonnes swt (up 6%).

Surprisingly, shipments to some of the smaller markets were down on last year, with Canada, Mexico, Japan, South Korea, South Africa and Switzerland finishing the year below the previous year's levels.

This accounted for a combined reduction in export volumes of 1,702 tonnes swt (less than 1% of total exports). Given the impact of the higher turnoff throughout 2012-13, the supply of lambs is expected to be tighter in the first half of 2013-14, potentially limiting the volume of lamb to be sent to overseas markets.

However, this could be heavily influenced if the Australian dollar continues to decline in coming months. Along with tighter New Zealand supplies, this could contribute to increased demand for Australian lamb.

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