September 28, 2005


Australian lamb exports to the Middle East up



Australian lamb exports to the Middle East are continuing to strengthen, with August exports up by 87 percent compared with last year, to 1,631 tonnes.


Meat and Livestock Australia reported that Australian exports to the region have held steady throughout the Australian winter, a time traditionally associated with lower exports to the region as tighter supplies and the exceptionally hot Middle Eastern summers reduce demand and overall lamb exports.


Lamb exports for the eight months to August have increased 49 per cent from the previous year, to 8,891 tonnes, said MLA. Shipments to the United Arab Emirates (3,691 tonnes ) and Saudi Arabia (2,842 tonnes ) account for the majority of this growth.


MLA pointed out that the key factors contributing to the growth are an increase in supplies of lambs (mainly Merino) ideally suited to the region, a decline in New Zealand exports in the first half of the year, and higher disposable incomes in the Middle East from higher oil revenues.


Australian exports to the region traditionally pick up in autumn leading up to the major festivals on the Islamic calendar, notably the holy month of Ramadan which is expected to commence on Oct 4, as well as the Haj period-the pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia-which will last for approximately 10 days in late Jan 2006.


With supplies of lamb set to increase by 3 percent over the spring period and regional demand expected to remain strong, the outlook for exports to the Middle East for the rest of the year continues positive, MLA confirmed.