By Matt Dalgleish | Source: MLA, ABS
Australian live sheep exports have started the year softer with the first quarter average monthly figures for 2017 coming in below last season and the longer-term average pattern. Indeed, the monthly average figures for the first quarter of 2017 almost identical to the 2015 numbers at just over 131,000 head of sheep.
Figure 1 highlights the recent patterns in live sheep export volumes, with much of the first quarter of this year being spent below the five-year average trend line. Data from the last five seasons shows the average monthly volume for the first quarter of the year has been just shy of 162,000 head. The monthly average volume for the first quarter of 2017 came in at 131,408 head, 18.4% under the five-year average figures. After a slow start to the year in 2016 strong March volumes saw the monthly average for the first quarter sitting just below 156,000 head, 15.6% higher than the current season. However, a comparison to the first quarter of 2017 and 2015 shows the monthly average volumes barely distinguishable at 131,408 and 131,040 head, respectively.
A sharp drop in live sheep to Kuwait for the month of March compared to the 2016 March volumes saw trade flows return to more normal levels with the 2017 figure sitting just under the five-year average for March and at similar levels to the 2015 March volumes – figure 2. Indeed, the large jump in total live sheep flows for March during 2016 in part attributed to the spike in flows to Kuwait during that time, along with increased flows to Jordan and the UAE.
The return of live sheep imports to Kuwait to levels below the longer term monthly averages see a changing of the guard in terms of the top destination spot for Aussie sheep with the market share of live exports to Qatar eclipsing Kuwait for the first time – figure 3. The average monthly flows of live sheep to Qatar for the first quarter of 2017 sitting at 47,300 compared to Kuwait’s 43,100 head means Qatar’s market share is at 36% to Kuwait’s 32.8%.
Read the previous live sheep exports article here.
As outlined in the previous live sheep analysis (see link above) tighter local supplies and the resultant higher local prices experienced during 2017 has impacted live sheep export numbers. Although, foreign prices paid for Australian sheep have been softened somewhat by a depreciating A$, with the currency 17% lower on average compared to the movement noted over the last five years.
Despite the more competitive currency levels the average monthly volumes for each quarter for 2017 are expected to trend below the longer-term average volume pattern.
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