NZ lamb supplies contract as season comes to a close

29 October 2015

New Zealand (NZ) lamb production in August was 5% lower than year-ago levels, at 13,927 tonnes cwt (Statistics New Zealand).

The majority of NZ’s lamb production for the month was in the North Island, at 10,277 tonnes cwt (back 4% year-on-year), while South Island production was 6% lower, at 3,700 tonnes cwt.

With one month of the NZ season to go (ending in September), lamb production for the season-to-date (October 2014 to August 2015) amounted to 367,112 tonnes cwt – up 2% on the corresponding period the previous year.

Underpinning lower August production was a 3% drop in NZ lamb slaughter, compared to last year, at 703,523 head. The number of lambs processed for the season-to-August totalled 20.4 million head – 3% higher year-on-year.

AgriHQ recently reported that, although lamb supply is currently seasonally tight, lamb kills have lifted slightly over the past couple of weeks, as producers offload any remaining old season lambs before they cut their teeth. Although, many reportedly did not meet the requirements for the chilled Christmas trade – which is not unusual for the tail-end of the season.

According to AgriHQ, NZ exporters will focus on diversifying markets for the new season, as key markets continue to underperform in the short to medium-term.

AgriHQ report that chilled lamb sales remain the focus in the UK, while frozen lamb sales are subdued, with little change expected for some time. As most of NZ’s lamb legs are usually sold to the UK, exporters have had to find alternative markets to sell frozen leg as a result. Other European countries, however, have showed solid interest and frozen trade to these markets is expected to be positive.

There has reportedly been greater demand from China, although prices are yet to show any upward movement.

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