The tightening screws on supply reined in Australia's sheepmeat exports in June which were completely dominated by protein-hungry China.
Total sheepmeat exports for June were 31,321 tonnes, down 25pc on the previous month and 17pc on the same month last year, according to trade statistics released by Meat & Livestock Australia.
China imported 10,543 tonnes in June, double the 5203 tonnes shipped to the United States.
Hot demand from China is partly being driven by the massive disruption of its domestic pork production caused by an outbreak of African swine flu.
Chinese officials have admitted the response to the disease outbreak across the country has been bungled and have estimated around 25pc of the world's largest pig herd could be lost, a figure considered conservative by global ag commodities trader, Cargill.
Prolonged drought is hampering Australian sheepmeat exporters from taking full advantage of China's booming demand for meat imports.
China imported 6019 tonnes of lamb in June, down 19pc on May but 10pc up on June last year. Its mutton imports were 4523 tonnes, a 16pc increase on May and a 27pc hike on June last year.
China is now dominating Australia's mutton exports with the US (1328 tonnes in June) and Malaysia (1210 tonnes) a distant second and third respectively.
In the first six months of 2019 China imported 65,187 tonnes of Australian sheepmeats, up 39pc on the same period last year. China's imports were relatively equally divided between lamb (34,560 tonnes, an increase of 20pc) and mutton (30,627 tonnes, up 68pc).
In the calendar year to the end of June the US imported 32,387 tonnes of lamb (up 11pc) and 9316 tonnes of mutton (up 18pc) for a total 41,703 tonnes (up 12pc).
Australia's global sheepmeat exports for the year to June were 237,050 tonnes, up 7pc on the same period last year.
While China and the US were the major importers, Australia had a healthy spread of markets with the United Arab Emirates taking 14,485 tonnes, Malaysia 13,988 tonnes, Qatar 10,277 tonnes and Japan 8307 tonnes.
In the 12 months to June Australia exported 463,469 tonnes of sheepmeat (up 8pc) with 275,176 tonnes of lamb (up 2pc) and 188,292 tonnes of mutton (up 8pc).
China was the biggest importer taking a total 126,064 tonnes, a hefty 30pc higher compared with the previous year.
China imported 67,378 tonnes of mutton (up a whopping 51pc on the previous 12 months) and 58,686 tonnes of lamb (up 12pc).
During the same year the US imported 59,954 tonnes lamb (up 3pc) and 19,304 tonnes of mutton (up 44pc) for a total 79,258 tonnes (up 11pc).
The story Please, comrade, can we have more Australian sheepmeat? first appeared on Farm Online.