Australian beef and lamb exports to the UK have surged in the first five months of 2024 under the new UK-Australia trade deal which came into effect at the start of June last year.

Figure 1 shows that both beef and lamb volumes were higher for each of the first five months compared with a year ago.

For the year to date, the total volume of Australian lamb exported to the UK is 4,816 tonnes, up from 2,915 tonnes in the same period last year.

Beef volume in the same period is 2,257 tonnes which while still tiny in the context of overall Australian beef exports, is still dramatically higher than the 397 tonnes exported in the same period in 2023. Incidentally, this volume is almost on par with the 2,278 tonnes of Irish beef exported to the US up to the end of May.

Overall Australian exports

While the trade deal and removal of tariffs on entry to the UK has no doubt encouraged growth in exports to that market, the fact that overall Australian beef and lamb exports have increased is also a contributing factor. Lamb exports set another monthly record in May 2024 at 36,703 tonnes up from 28,518 tonnes in May last year.

Beef exports have also increased, up 255 compared with May 2023 at 113,923 tonnes which is the highest monthly total since 2019 and the highest total for the month of May since May 2015.


The US has led the way in growing markets for Australian beef in May, up a massive 74% compared with May 2023 at 31,294 tonnes. Tighter beef supplies in the US have increased the opportunity for Australian exports and have also created opportunities in the major US beef export markets of Japan and Korea. Australian volumes to Japan in May were up 31% to 19,336 tonnes while Korea increased by a more modest 9% to 17,096 tonnes compared with May 2023.

The US has also been the major growth market for Australian lamb exports in 2024 with May volumes at 6,881 tonnes to the east coast and a further 1,582 tonnes to the west coast. Despite being down 27% on May 2023 volumes, China remained the second largest market in May 2024 at 5,219 tonnes and a major increase in volumes to Iran made it the third highest market taking 2,737 tonnes.


Australia’s beef and sheep meat volumes in 2024 are buoyant and this trend continued last month. The likelihood is that this upward trend will continue for the remainder of this year and into 2025. It is fortunate that the US and other Asian markets are able to accommodate extra Australian produce because of the tighter US supplies impacting their ability to export and supply the domestic market.

The market that Irish farmers and exporters will be watching most is the level of Australian beef and lamb exports to the UK now that the trade deal in in place for a year. So far there has been a dramatic increase in percentage terms but because these exports were coming from such a low base, the overall volumes remain low both in the context of overall Australian exports and UK total imports. It, however, remains a market with huge growth potential for Australian exporters.

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