Meat & Livestock News

Strong Demand for Australian Red Meat in the US

TL;DR: Australian red meat exports are strong, with record lamb exports in May. The US remains the largest market, followed by China and MENA. Beef and goat exports also increased significantly, driven by strong US demand. Mutton exports rose, especially to MENA markets.

Lamb Exports

In May, Australia exported a record 36,703 tonnes of lamb. The United States remains the largest market for Australian lamb, followed by China and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

The rise in total export volume has diversified markets. For instance, exports to Iraq increased fivefold from last year to 1,386 tonnes, making it Australia’s eighth-largest lamb market in May. As Australian exports keep up a strong pace, there are opportunities to grow market share both in traditional key markets and emerging ones.

Mutton Exports

Australian mutton exports increased by 11% year-on-year to 21,664 tonnes, the largest monthly figure since November 2019.

China was the largest market for the month, though exports fell 38% year-on-year to 5,363 tonnes. Most of the export growth came from MENA markets. Exports to Saudi Arabia doubled to 1,950 tonnes, Oman rose by 146% to 1,284 tonnes, and Qatar lifted eightfold to 1,229 tonnes.

Exports to other key markets, outside of China and MENA, remained strong. Exports to Malaysia rose by 26% year-on-year to 2,365 tonnes. Exports to the US also rose by 26% to 936 tonnes, and exports to Singapore lifted by 11% to 889 tonnes.

Beef Exports

Beef exports saw a 9% rise from April and a 25% increase from May 2023, totalling 113,923 tonnes. This makes May the biggest month for beef exports since December 2019 and the largest May export figure since 2015.

The growth was led by strong exports to the US, which increased by 74% year-on-year to 31,294 tonnes, making up 27% of total exports. Declines in US production are now significantly impacting export flows. Australian exports to the US have been consistently high this year, and lower US exports to Japan and Korea have increased demand for Australian beef in those markets. Exports to Japan rose by 31% year-on-year to 19,366 tonnes, and exports to Korea lifted by 9% year-on-year to 17,096 tonnes.

China was the only major market to see a decline in volumes, with exports falling by 22% year-on-year to 15,359 tonnes. Brazil, the major exporter to China, is currently producing at near-record highs, affecting Australian market share.

Goat Exports

After a record number in April, goat exports reached the second-highest ever in May at 4,682 tonnes. This was largely driven by exports to the US, which more than doubled to 2,894 tonnes, making up 62% of trade. Exports to South Korea also lifted by 80% year-on-year to 856 tonnes.


Strong demand for Australian red meat continues, particularly in the US. Record lamb exports, significant mutton export growth, and rising beef and goat exports highlight the robust market. Diversifying markets and maintaining strong export figures offer promising opportunities for Australian meat producers in both traditional and emerging markets.