Back in 2015 Georgian sheep market got into the spotlight due to the increased demand for sheep from Arabic countries. Prior to 2015, Azerbaijan was the most important export destination for live sheep, while in 2015, in addition to Azerbaijan, Georgian sheep were exported to the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia. Current trends in the trade data show, that exports of live sheep decrease, while exports of sheep meat increase, which is the sign of sheep market development and increased potential for higher value-added in the sheep value chain.
According to the data, meat export price is more than twice higher than live weight export price which motivates Georgian sheep exporters to focus on meat exports rather than the export of live animals.
While generally switching from primary exports to more value addition is good news for the sector, the imports of live sheep and sheepmeat dramatically increased in 2018, which might negatively affect domestic production. Particularly dangerous is the re-export of sheep meat which requires strict control to ensure that imported foreign sheep meat is not re-exported as Georgian sheep meat. In the absence of control, there are food safety-related risks that might adversely affect domestic sheep farmers and Georgia’s relations with its trade partners well as.