Australian sheepmeat exports fell 4% in the first half of 2015, driven by a drop in mutton shipments and despite an increase in volume shipments of lamb, according to AHDB.

The organisation for the English beef and sheep industry (AHDB) said that lamb exports from Australia in the first half of 2015 reached 124,300t – up 5% on the same period in 2014.

This, it says, follows higher than expected production in Australia as dry weather has led to increased slaughterings.

Volumes going to the US, Australia’s largest lamb market, increased by a fifth to 26,900t; this, AHDB says, means 22% of Australian lamb exports have gone to the US in the first half of the year – up from 19% in 2014.

Shipments to China meanwhile fell by 12% as high domestic production and the slowing economy in China led to reduced import demand, according to AHDB.

Exports to the EU were down by 20%, with the UK taking almost 80% of the EU total, it says.

Volumes going to the United Arab Emirates, Papua New Guinea and Jordan all increased AHDB says – up by 9%, 52% and 34% respectively.

In contrast to the increase in shipments of lamb from Australia, volumes of mutton exported in the first half of 2015 fell by 14% to 82,000t, it says.

According to AHDB this is due to production of mutton in the first half of the year falling and the largest fall came from the largest market for Australian mutton, China, where volumes were down by more than a third at 18,800t.

Meanwhile, shipments to Saudi Arabia and Malaysia actually increased 13% and 10% respectively, it says.

This leaves totals sheepmeat exports from Australia down f4% in the first six months of 2015 at 206,300t.

However the average unit value of shipments was up 8%, which caused the overall value of Australian sheep meat exports to increase by 4%.