Imports of meat are dominated by sheep meat and beef from Australia and New Zealand. This includes a wide range of products from whole sheep carcases through to cheaper lamb cuts to boned beef for canning. These imports rose from around 25 000 tonnes in 1980 to 60 000 tonnes in 1994, as beef and sheep meat replaced earlier imports of chicken, pork and tinned meat. Sheep meat imports subsequently declined to around 25 000 tonnes by 2001–2003. Around 90% of imported beef is used by the two commercial canneries to produce corned beef, luncheon meat and meat loaf products.
Total meat production is estimated as 58 000 tonnes. To this can be added 30 000 tonnes in imports, giving total meat consumption in PNG of 88 000 tonnes. Thus average meat consumption is about 15 kg/person/year. However, meat is an extremely variable commodity ranging from whole carcases or bone-in cuts through boned meat of variable fat content, to processed and tinned products. Available statistics are inadequate to enable all this to be expressed on a comparable basis. Regardless of the accuracy and composition of these estimates, consumption is very uneven both geographically and socially, with differences in cash incomes and the importance of meat in feasting and custom. Both rural and urban people will spend income on meat whenever possible. However, most of the traditional or village production of pig, poultry, sheep and goat meat never enters formal markets. For the 2000 census, 175 000 households claimed to sell meat in local markets or on roadsides.