Chinese New Year sparks positive signals for NZ lamb exports

30 September 2015


New Zealand (NZ) lamb exports for the season-to-date (October 2014-July 2015) have reached 264,998 tonnes swt – slightly lower (3%) than the corresponding period the previous year (Statistics New Zealand).

The decline was largely attributed to easing demand in China and the UK during the 2014-15 season so far, while the growth registered in markets such as the US, Germany, Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands was not large enough to offset the overall fall.

For the 2014-15 season-to-date, NZ lamb shipments to:

  • China were down 10% year-on-year, to 77,039 tonnes swt
  • The UK decreased 2%, to 54,073 tonnes swt
  • The US lifted 9% on year-ago levels, to 16,409 tonnes swt
  • Germany were 25% higher, to 15,775 tonnes swt
  • Saudi Arabia increased 6%, to 15,510 tonnes swt

The provisional forecast for 2014-15 (year ending September 2015), according to Beef + Lamb NZ’s New Season Outlook, is for lamb exports to reach 313,000 tonnes swt.

Despite reports of weak demand from China over the past several months, the market has started to show some upside in recent weeks. AgriHQ suggests that there has been increased interest from Chinese importers for both lamb and mutton, with buyers keen to secure product early, ahead of the Chinese New Year holiday period in February next year. Additionally, the high inventories of domestic sheepmeat in China, which had been softening import demand, are reportedly beginning to clear.

In terms of NZ lamb supply, slaughter for the 2014-15 season-to-date has totalled 19.56 million head – up 2% year-on-year. As a result, production has also lifted, although to a slightly lesser extent (1%), reaching 350,420 tonnes cwt.

With two months of official figures yet to be released by Statistics New Zealand, Beef & Lamb NZ forecast lamb slaughter to hit 21 million head for the 2014-15 season, with production at 378,500 tonnes cwt.

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