NZ beef export values exceed sheepmeat returns for the first time in 20 years

14 October 2015

The 2014-15 New Zealand (NZ) production and export season finished on 30 September 2015, and for the first time in 20 years, the value of NZ beef exports exceeded that of sheepmeat (Beef + Lamb New Zealand).

Beef + Lamb NZ highlight, however, that lamb and mutton returns were partly constrained by supply, while beef production increased during the year, driven by high prices on the back of strong US demand, as well as low dairy prices.


The value of NZ beef exports surged 39% in the year ending September 2015, compared to the previous year, reaching a new record of $3.2 billion. This corresponded to a 10% rise in shipments over the same period, to 421,700 tonnes swt, as well as a 26% jump in the average unit value, with beef exports averaging $7,510/tonne. In fact, in Beef + Lamb NZ’s 35 years of records, the average NZ beef export unit value has never been greater than $6,000/tonne – until last year.  

Demand for NZ beef from North America and North Asia was strong during 2014-15, with volumes up 22% and 7% year-on-year, respectively. As a result, the US and China remained the largest markets for NZ beef.


The 2% decline in NZ lamb exports in 2014-15, to 295,800 tonnes swt, was offset by a 3% increase in the average unit value, to $8,630/tonne. In turn, total lamb shipments generated $2.55 billion – 1% higher than the year before.

Beef + Lamb NZ report that the EU accounted for half of the total value of lamb exports during 2014-15, while 21% of the total was generated from shipments to North Asia.


NZ mutton exports (85,300 tonnes swt) were 8% lower year-on-year, due to tighter supplies – following elevated production during 2013-14. Despite the decline, the 2014-15 volume was still 13% higher than the five-year average.

The average export unit value remained relatively unchanged year-on-year, at $5,220/tonne, and as a result, the total value of mutton exports fell 9% in 2014-15, to $445 million.

All values quoted are FOB (free on board) in New Zealand dollars.

Source: Beef + Lamb New Zealand

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