How are NZ lamb production & exports tracking year-on-year?

27 August 2015

New Zealand (NZ) lamb production for the 2014-15 season-to-date (October 2014 to June 2015) is 1% higher than the previous year, at 331,337 tonnes carcase weight (cwt) (Statistics New Zealand). Underpinning the rise was a 2% lift in lamb slaughter over the same period, totalling 18.5 million head.

In contrast, NZ mutton production so far this season (October to June) is 7% lower than the previous year, at 91,064 tonnes cwt, due to a 6% drop in sheep slaughter for the period (3.6 million head).

Interestingly, in Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Mid-Season Update, lamb slaughter for the 2014-15 season is forecast to reach 19.8 million head – which, to be met, will require a considerable contraction in slaughter for the remainder of the season. Furthermore, the forecast for sheep slaughter was 3.5 million head for 2014-15, which has already been exceeded.

NZ lamb exports over the October-June period have declined 4% year-on-year, to 242,664 tonnes shipped weight (swt).

Shipments to China are 10% lower year-on-year for the season-to-date, at 70,282 tonnes swt. AgriHQ NZ report that subdued demand from China is expected to continue in the short-term, mainly due to already high inventories and increased domestic production.

Volumes to the UK eased 2% on the previous year, at 50,924 tonnes swt. Recent reports of limited activity in the UK attribute high domestic lamb production to the slower trade (AgriHQ).

Several of NZ’s smaller export markets have registered strong growth on year-ago levels, such as the US (14,777 tonnes swt, up 9%), Germany (14,501 tonnes swt, up 25%) and the Netherlands (10,771 tonnes swt, up 16%).

Shipments to Saudi Arabia increased 5% year-on-year for the season-to-date, to 14,446 tonnes swt.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Mid-Season Update forecast is for lamb exports to decline 3% year-on-year in 2014-15, to 298,000 tonnes swt.

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