International Lamb Trade

The world's sheep and lamb supply has been contracting. Between 1992 and 2002, world sheep inventory fell from 1157 million to 1034 million.[1] Between 1992 and 2002, sheep inventory in Australia fell by 24%, by 18% in New Zealand, by 10% in the 15 European Union (EU) countries, and by 38% in the United States.[1]

The international trade in sheep meat is dominated by Australia and New Zealand (Fig. 1). In 2001, New Zealand accounted for 39% of total international sheep meat exports and Australia followed at 35% of the total exports.[1] Ireland was a distant third with 8% of international sheep meat exports.[1] Although China had the largest sheep population in the world, 13.25% in 2002, China is not an important exporter on world markets.[1] In 2002, Australia had 11% of the world's sheep population and New Zealand had 4%. New Zealand exports roughly 90% of its lamb and mutton production, with about one-fifth, or its largest share, to the United Kingdom.

The top five importers of sheep meat by volume accounted for 45% of total international imports in 2001. France was number one with 14% of international sheep meat imports, United Kingdom at 11%, United States at 8%, Mexico at 6%, and China at 6%.[1]

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