Kiwi lamb exports expand in March

25 May 2017

New Zealand (NZ) is Australia’s main competitor in the global sheepmeat trade and, excluding Mexico and Canada, the single largest competitor in the US imported beef market.

Sheepmeat exports

NZ lamb exports for March totalled almost 41,000 tonnes shipped weight (swt), up 18% year-on-year. China, NZ’s largest sheepmeat export destination, accounted for 17,000 tonnes swt during the month – the highest monthly volume on record and a 59% increase from the same time last year. March marks the halfway point of the NZ production season (October-September) and season-to-date lamb exports have totalled 160,000 tonnes swt, 6% higher than the five-year average.

NZ mutton exports, predominantly (55%) to China, increased 3% year-on-year in March, to almost 12,000 tonnes swt. The season-to-date total was 4% higher than the five-year average, at 57,000 tonnes swt.

While sheepmeat exports have grown over the first quarter this year, Beef + Lamb NZ’s mid-season update forecast a 3.2% contraction in 2016-17, underpinned by a shrinking flock and a reduced 2016 lamb crop.

Beef exports

NZ beef exports in March were 34,000 tonnes swt, back 18% year-on-year and the lowest March volume since 2001. The season to date has fallen 4% on the five-year average. Volumes to NZ’s largest market, the US, decreased by 37% year-on-year in March, to just over 8,000 tonnes swt. However, March saw an 8% year-on-year increase in shipments to China, NZ’s second largest beef destination.

As highlighted last week, NZ beef production continues to come under supply constraints and a contracting beef cattle herd. 

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