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Sheepmeat Council : Sheepmeat 2015 2016
SHEEPMEAT COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA ANNUAL MUSTER 2015-16 29 MARKETING, MARKET ACCESS & TRADE shared and was very successful with sales increasing over 35% during the period (see information box for more details). There are four markets where the strategy is for growth – North America, Japan, Greater China and Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Lamb is rarely consumed but is a high-end, niche protein in North America. The focus in this market is retailers and chain restaurants to drive availability and popularity. Australian lamb has the dominant share of imported lamb and the potential to increase its share (see information box on USA & Mexico). Japan is Australia’s largest market for boneless lamb shoulder which is utilised for the Genghis Khan style lamb barbecue. There is also growth in mid to high level food service and retail in Tokyo. To coincide with 2015 being ‘Year of the Sheep’, M LA Japan launched a partnership program with key influencers of the Japanese food sector to develop the ‘Lambassador’ program. Nine industry professionals (food stylists, butchers, chefs and a restaurant owner) took part in cooking classes, recipe book development, advertising campaigns, social media activity and a tour to Australia. They will now act as Australian lamb advocates to raise awareness and boost demand for Australian lamb amongst Japanese consumers. Australia is the largest supplier of sheepmeat to Japan with 59.5% market share in 2009-10, increasing to 70.8% by 2014-15. Urbanisation and growth of the middle class are expected to drive growth of red meat sales in China. There is no chilled access and the market predominantly takes frozen breast and flap for use in hotpot. The volume of Australian exports of frozen lamb non-loin cuts (excluding manufacturing) to China almost doubled from 2010-11 to 2014-15 and there could be opportunities for supplying lamb to the growing middle class. TRADE, MARKETING ACCESS AND MARKETING USA & Mexico The US is Australia’s highest value export market for lamb. Australian lamb exports to the US in 2014-15 reached a record volume of 48,153 tonnes swt (previous fiscal year record was 2013-14, at 42,301 tonnes swt), worth $532 million FOB (previous high was in 2013-14, at $398 million). It is estimated that around 70% of people in the US have never tried lamb. Domestic meat dominates shelves and menus (50% for lamb), so gaining attention and support as an imported product can be challenging. To make most use of marketing funds, MLA targets the major cities such as Seattle, Boston, New York, San Francisco, Washington DC and Chicago for focused, seasonal promotional activities to elevate Australian lamb, raise awareness and stimulate increased sales. Loyalty to Australian lamb from big retail customers, increased sales, and leverage has been gained for further promotions. As lamb is a niche product in the US, the major issue is competing for shelf space in supermarkets with other protein sources. Following the now resolved trade disputes 15 years ago, SCA and MLA have developed a relationship with both the New Zealand and US industries (TriLamb Group) to work together to extend the attributes of lamb (healthy and nutritious) with some generic promotion especially targeting health professionals. The other challenge confronting imported product is the view that ‘local’ equates to ‘more sustainable’ and there is a strong belief in ‘food miles’ in the US. To counteract this view M LA has invested in peer-reviewed research which concluded that the transport component of producing and shipping lamb to US ports is a minor contributor to environmental impact (generally less than 5%). While travelling to the US for TriLamb, SCA representives Jeff Murray and CEO Kat Giles also travelled to Mexico to meet with Mexican producers (and New Zealand representatives) to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to recognise the common goal of building sheepmeat production globally. Mexico currently represents a comparatively small volume export market for sheepmeat however substantial increases could be achieved if a number tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade could be improved. Barbacoa is a local delicacy in Mexico which is growing in demand. A whole sheep carcase and the sheep’s tripe is stuffed with finely sliced offal and herbs, wrapped in the leaves of the maguey cactus and cooked in a pit barbeque. The relatively small scale of local Mexican sheepmeat production make imported product highly demanded and has seen consistent shipments of Australian lamb and mutton to Mexico. Mexico is also a major consumer of offals. The recent conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations is a most welcome development – with Mexico committing to eliminate all import tariffs on all Australian red meat and livestock products. However an array of non-tariff barriers to trade remain in this market such as prohibition of flat stacking frozen sheepmeat carcases in shipping containers and rigid testing requirements need to be overcome before the full benefits of tariff concessions can be realised for this market.