Australian sheep flock forecast to expand

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

After several years of significant contraction, the Australian sheep flock is forecast to expand by 10% in 2021 to 70.6 million head, according to the latest MLA outlook. Encouraged on by the strong market, this expansion is expected to continue for several years with numbers hitting 76 million in 2023. Reflecting this expansion, production is set to rise which will lead to an increase in exports.

Pasture conditions in Australia are set to be good over the coming summer months, with good rainfall and lower temperatures than have been recorded in recent years.

Strong demand from export markets is expected to continue. China is expected to continue to draw large volumes even as the Chinese pig herd recovers from African Swine Fever (ASF).

Turbulence in the freight industry may be limiting volumes to some parts of the world, notably the Middle East as freight companies have diverted ships to more lucrative routes. Air freight too, has seen a sharp reduction in capacity. This gap in capacity will only be filled when international passenger air travel to and from Australia returns. Sea freight has also seen large disruptions during the pandemic.

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Rebecca Wright

Senior Analyst - Red Meat

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