U.S. lamb exports set record in 2008
Exports of U.S. lamb and mutton muscle cuts set a new single-year record in 2008, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
The volume of lamb and mutton muscle cut exports for 2008 increased 28 percent over the previous year, exceeding 5,000 metric tons. The value of these exports nearly doubled over 2007 by reaching $21.5 million.
When lamb variety meats are included, total exports showed slower growth but still increased 44 percent in worldwide value to more than $25.3 million, the second-highest total on record, USMEF noted.
Lamb exports to the Caribbean were the largest factor, increasing 121 percent in volume and 240 percent in value over 2007. Bermuda alone accounted for about half the value of global U.S. lamb exports, totaling $10.65 million for the year. Other significant Caribbean destinations for U.S. lamb include the Bahamas, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and the Dominican Republic.
“Exporters are becoming more aggressive when it comes to the export market for lamb, and the Caribbean has certainly been one of the shining stars,” said Elizabeth Wunderlich, USMEF representative in the Caribbean, in a statement.
U.S. lamb exports to the European Union also showed strong growth last year, with muscle cut exports rising 359 percent in volume and almost tripling in value over 2007. The Netherlands was the leading European market for U.S. lamb, with purchases of about $1.2 million. Italy was another strong market, importing about $536,000 in U.S. lamb.
U.S. lamb exports to Hong Kong more than doubled in 2008 to $470,000, while muscle cut exports to Canada increased 30 percent to $2.6 million.
“At a time when the U.S. economy is really struggling and consumer spending is down, exports become an even more important factor for producers,” said Megan Wortman, executive director of the American Lamb Board. “It’s very encouraging to see the value and presence of U.S. lamb increasing overseas, and to see our product gaining momentum in these key markets.”