Australia's sheepmeat industry enjoyed a stellar year in 2019 with exports of 465,000 tonnes worth $4.1 billion last year.
The good news keeps coming for the industry which is now enjoying sky-high saleyard lamb and mutton prices.
The Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator rebounding 12 cents on Wednesday to 917c a kilogram carcase weight while the mutton indicator is edging towards the $7 a kg barrier.
Meat and Livestock Australia said China remained the top destination for Australian sheepmeat with its appetite last year growing by a whopping 42 per cent to 153,000 tonnes.
Exports to the US were 76,000 tonnes, up 2pc year-on-year.
MLA said the outlook for sheepmeat consumption was largely positive, underpinned by growing numbers of affluent consumers, rising world population and booming international demand.
The price of lamb and mutton had kept rising in the past year because of tightening supply combined with robust global demand driven by China after its domestic pork production was decimated by an outbreak of African Swine Fever.
Australia's domestic supply was forecast to tighten again in 2020 and, combined with a soft Australian dollar, would continue to underpin the value of Australian sheepmeat exports, MLA said.
New Zealand is Australia's main competitor on the global market, particularly for premium quality lamb.
But NZ flock numbers have declined due to the shift to dairy in recent years.
NZ sheepmeat exports for 2019 were 390,000 tonnes, down 4.2pc on 2018, and were worth $A3.7 billion.
China now takes more than half NZ's sheepmeat exports.
NZ also has preferential access into the lucrative EU market and exported 93,000 tonnes of the 228,389 tonne quota (with zero duty) compared with Australia's 19,186 tonnes.
The story Sheepmeat enjoyed a stellar $4.1 billion year in 2019 first appeared on Farm Online.