DENVER – Exports of U.S. lamb and mutton muscle cuts set a new single-year record in 2008 on the heels of a decline in 2007, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation. For calendar year 2008 the volume of lamb and mutton muscle cut exports increased 28% over the previous year, exceeding 5,000 metric tons (11.2 million lbs.). But the strongest growth was in value, which nearly doubled over 2007 by reaching $21.5 million – an all-time record for a single year.

Total exports, when including lamb variety meats, showed slower growth but still increased by 44% in worldwide value to more than $25.3 million – the second-highest total on record.

Lamb exports to the Caribbean were the largest factor, increasing 121% in volume and 240% in value over 2007. Bermuda 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.

"Our marketing efforts in the Caribbean are really paying dividends, and we’ve seen some excellent growth over the past year," said Elizabeth Wunderlich, U.S.M.E.F. representative in the Caribbean. "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. You have a native population there that really enjoys cooking and eating lamb, as well as a hotel and restaurant industry that loves to feature high-quality cuts of U.S. lamb."

For U.S. lamb export global statistics, click online.

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