How is NZ lamb production tracking mid-way through the season?

04 May 2016

In March, New Zealand (NZ) lamb production was 4% higher than year-ago levels, at 49,138 tonnes cwt (Statistics NZ). Production in the North and South Islands was up 6% and 3% year-on-year, at 21,742 tonnes cwt and 27,396 tonnes cwt, respectively.

For the first six months of the season (October to March), however, lamb production was slightly below the corresponding period the year prior, at 231,474 tonnes cwt.

NZ lamb slaughter increased to a lesser extent (1%) than production in March, to 2.7 million head, suggesting a rise in carcase weights for the month. For the October to March period, there was a 1% decline in the total number of lambs processed compared to the previous year, at 12.8 million head.

AgriHQ report that exporter inventories are already very low, and lamb production is expected to tighten over the coming months, which will likely see processors attempt to reduce slaughter capacity as a means of relieving procurement competition.

NZ mutton production and slaughter in March decreased 33% and 34% year-on-year, to 7,578 tonnes cwt and 313,952 head, respectively. For the season-to-date, however, production and slaughter volumes have eased to a lesser extent (4%), with just over 76,187 tonnes cwt produced and 3 million head processed.

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