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All News Updates & Public Comment => Live Export News Updates => : Export News Tasmania June 01, 2013, 04:14:13 PM

: Research: WA has spare processing capacity to absorb live sheep trade
: Export News Tasmania June 01, 2013, 04:14:13 PM
New research commissioned by WSPA, the World Society for the Protection of Animals, has found that Western Australia has sufficient spare physical processing capacity to absorb the entire Australian live sheep trade, as it stands.

The opportunity to utilise this capacity could benefit the lamb and mutton export industry at the expense of the already dwindling – and cruel – live export industry.   


The Sapere Research Group report highlights the risks of continuing with the live trade. It supports conclusions reached by ACIL Tasman in earlier research, that replacing live sheep exports over time with chilled and frozen meat exports leads to: employment opportunities created; regional economic benefits; and animals’ lives improved. It will also remove the risk to farmers’ incomes brought about by their current reliance on the live export trade.

The research discusses a survey of WA meat processing capacity which found that the level of utilisation was around 59%. With a 50% decline in the number of sheep being processed by WA abattoirs over the past five years, Western Australia is losing out to other states on growing its sheepmeat exports to growing foreign markets, whilst their live export market has also taken a dramatic hit.

The WA Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mr Terry Redman, said in 2012: “It is clear to industry that sheep numbers are precariously balanced with insufficient supply to meet demand and allow for flock rebuilding, risking a loss of processing capacity and markets as well.” The value of live sheep exports ($349 million in 2010-11) is less than 25% of the value of lamb and mutton exports ($1.495 billion in 2010-11) and the research suggests that the relative value of lamb and mutton exports will increase while the relative value of live sheep exports will decrease over time.

Issues and risks with live sheep exportsWA’s live export market (accounting for around 70% of Australian live sheep exports) has become increasingly susceptible to market changes: The report also found the contention incorrect that the live sheep export trade underwrites domestic sheep prices. A comparison was made between the prices of wethers in NSW, where there is virtually no exposure to the live export trade, with the prices of wethers in WA, where there is heavy exposure to the trade, with little difference being found.

An alternativeWSPA proposes that several steps are taken to boost chilled and frozen meat exports: Jodie Jankevics, Head of Campaigns for WSPA Australia, said: “This independent research once again highlights the need for Australia, and Western Australia in particular, to replace live sheep exports with chilled and frozen sheepmeat exports over time.

“The unsustainability of tariffs and subsidies make the dependence on live export increasingly risky and all it needs is for one of the major GCC states to change their approach and the whole situation will be dramatically altered. Australia needs to take the lead and protect itself against the whims of other governments.

“WSPA promotes an approach that reduces risk for farmers, for the economy and for the animals. With all the trends pointing in the direction of a phase out of live export, it’s time that all parties came together to do the right thing”.

Apr 23, 2013

You can read a summary of the report, or the full report, at this link: (