This time last year we were bemoaning the decline of lamb export prices to the US, and its impact on heavy lambs. The latest export data shows US demand for lamb continues to improve, and export prices are supporting lambs at saleyard levels.

April lamb export data was released this week and it is relatively positive for the lamb market.  Last week we looked at lamb slaughter, which followed the seasonal trend and was slightly lower in April.  As a result, there we less lamb to export, but April exports came in just 3.7% below March which was incidentally the same decline on last year.

Looking specifically at the US, we can see how the return of foodservice has improved lamb demand compared to April 2020.  Figure 1 shows US lamb exports were up 820,000 tonnes compared to April 2020. 

The 17% year on year increase in exports to the US didn’t come at the expense of price, which suggests demand was stronger.  Imported lamb prices quoted by Steiner Consulting in their April US Lamb Market Update were steady on last year for high value racks, but figure 2 shows they have been much lower since. 

Lamb rack prices have improved by more than $US2/lb since February.  This equates to $5.50 per rack, or $11 per lamb in Australian terms. 

For lower value Frozen Legs of lamb, prices are up on both early this year and on last year.  Figure 2 shows that leg prices are as high as they’ve been for over two years.  Legs don’t add as much value to the carcase, but a 20%+ increase in price certainly helps.

The improvement in export lamb prices to the US can be put down to rising domestic beef and lamb prices, both have been documented by Mecardo in recent weeks, but grilling season is on the march.

While the US took more lamb, the Middle East continued to struggle for lamb volumes.  Much of the decrease can be put down to the end of air freight subsidies to Qatar, with the displace meat finding its way to the US and South East Asia.

Commodity Conversations

What does it mean?

Increasing demand from a market which takes around 25% on our lamb is nothing but good news for prices.  Figure 3 shows the better demand is being reflected in prices, with the Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator in USD terms sitting well above this time last year.

Exports remain the backbone of the lamb market rise of recent years, and strong demand should continue to support prices in the medium term.

Have any questions or comments?

We love to hear from you!

Print This Post

Key Points

  • Lamb exports to the US are well up on last year, despite total exports being down
  • Imported lamb prices in the US have recovered from 2020 lows as US beef and lamb prices rise.
  • Strong export demand should continue to support lamb prices in the medium term.

Click on figure to expand

Click on figure to expand

Click on figure to expand

Data sources:  DAWE, MLA, Mecardo

Make decisions with confidence- ask about our board packs, bespoke forecasting and risk management services

Have any questions or comments?

We love to hear from you!
Sheep in a paddock
Sheep

Restockers take the flag

Green was splashed across the board this week with lamb and sheep markets revelling in strong competition at yards in NSW and SA. Supply increased

Read More »
Sheep

Shederingly expensive

The flock rebuild is well and truly underway, with breeding ewe prices hitting new extremes this spring. While conventional breeding ewes, Merinos and First Cross

Read More »
Sheep & lambs in a paddock
Sheep

Supply slipping behind

Lamb prices ended the week lower in most states. It does seem that supply is driving the price moves, with last week’s price improvements on

Read More »

Don’t have an account with us? Join free.

You can have full premium access to all of our content with a monthly or annual subscription. 

Alternatively, create a free account to access our Insights blog and two free premium article a month!

Independent analysis and outlook for wool, livestock and grain markets delivered to you as it’s published

Commodity conversations podcast cover image, a illustration of a sheep standing on a cow's back with grain either side
Listen to the podcast

Join the Mecardo team for the Commodity Conversations podcast, where we provide short weekly market recaps and longer conversations with guests to discuss the drivers and trends in livestock, grain and fibre markets.

Photo of a farmer surrounded by Merino sheep in dusty yards
Research: Analysis of the Australian sheep flock

In this report for LiveCorp and MLA, we analysed the historical trends in the demographics of the Australian sheep flock, examining domestic factors that influence farm-level enterprise decision making. 

Image of harvested grain pouring into a chaser bin
SERVICES AND CAPABILITIES STATEMENT BROCHURE

We don’t just bring you the most up to date market insights. Find out more about Mecardo’s services including risk management advisory, modelling, benchmarking, research & consultancy.