In the season between October 2014 and July 2015, 264,998 tonnes (t) of lamb were sold abroad, slightly lower than the corresponding period the year before.
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 77,039t and sales to the UK decreased 2%, to 54,073t. However, sales to the US rose 9% on year-ago levels, to 16,409t; exports to Germany were 25% higher, to 15,775t; and shipments to Saudi Arabia increased 6%, to 15,510t.
The provisional forecast for the year ending September 2015 according to Beef + Lamb NZ’s New Season Outlook, is for lamb exports to reach 313,000t.
According to Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), despite reports of weak demand from China over the past several months, the NZ market has started to show some upside in recent weeks. “AgriHQ suggests 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,” MLA stated on its website.
“Additionally, the high inventories of domestic sheep meat in China, which had been softening import demand, are reportedly beginning to clear.”
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 378,500t.