Lacking lamb

by Erica Shaffer
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MELBOURNE, Australia – JBS Australia recently scaled back production of lamb products at two of the company's plants. The company, which is a unit of Sao Paulo, Brazil-based JBS SA, halved lamb production at its processing facilities in Brooklyn and Bordertown.

Sixty employees were affected at the Bordertown facility after the company idled a second shift. The Bordertown plant, on the South Australia and Victoria border, can process up to 8,000 head of smallstock per day, according to the company's website.

Nearly 200 workers at the Brooklyn, Victoria, facility were affected by the reduction in processing. The plant has a daily capacity of 8,200 head of small stock, and more than 1,000 individuals are employed at the plant.

Weak international demand for lamb coupled with record slaughter numbers created an oversupply of lamb domestically and for export markets such as China and the United States. Exports of Australian lamb climbed 6 percent year-over-year with US, China and the Middle East comprising 63 percent of exports, according to data from Meat & Livestock Australia. Shipments to the European Union were down 14 percent, MLA reported.

Supply conditions are expected to improve with a reduction in lamb slaughter — which will occur with a significant improvement in rainfall in southern Australia, according to MLA.

JBS Australia produces lamb under the Great Southern, Red Gum Creek and Tatiara brands. The company has corporate offices in Brisbane and Melbourne.
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