MLA said this was largely underpinned by an increase in cattle turn-off and higher smallstock prices.
Beef export value failed to surpass the drought years of 2014 to 2016, but was the third-highest financial year on record at AU$7.96bn. The MLA said that with lamb prices smashing records in recent months, lamb exports reached a record AU$2.27bn, and mutton followed suit at AU$1.02bn.
Combined sheep and beef offal exports broke records at AU$778m, while live cattle and sheep exports accounted for significant portions, at AU$1.268m and AU$259m respectively.
It said that Japan, the US, South Korea and China continued to “underpin” the value of beef exports, with the four largest markets accounting for 75% of export value. Similarly, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), the US and China accounted for 66% of sheepmeat export value.
Live cattle exports remained focused on south-east Asia, while sheep exports remained concentrated in MENA, underpinned by demand for religious slaughter, it said.
The MLA also revealed that, in Australia, the challenging dry conditions had led to increased cattle, lamb and mutton slaughter in July, as well as a decline in carcase weights across the board.
National cattle slaughter for the month totalled just over 712,000 head, bringing the year-to-date total to 4.5m head, up 21% year-on-year.
Beef production in July totalled over 203,000 tonnes carcase weight (cwt), bringing the year-to-date total to 1.3 million tonnes cwt – up 8% on 2017 levels.
National lamb slaughter in July increased 10% on year-ago levels, to 1.8 million head.
It has also led to a pronounced increase in sheep slaughter this year, as producers continued to destock in the face of low feed availability. The year-to-date total almost reached 4.78m head, up 27%, or just over 1m head, year-on-year.