NZ beef exports outstrip lamb and mutton returns

By Chloe Ryan

- Last updated on GMT

Demand for NZ beef has been particularly strong in North America and North Asia
Demand for NZ beef has been particularly strong in North America and North Asia

Related tags Beef exports Meat Roasting Beef Lamb

New Zealand's beef exports have exceeded the value of its lamb and mutton returns for the first time in 20 years.

NZ is famous for its lamb, but analysis by Beef + Lamb NZ’s Economic Service shows NZ beef and veal export returns for the 2014-15 meat export season, which concluded 30 September 2015, reached a record high of NZ$3.16 billion. That represents 38.5% growth on the year before. The volume of beef and veal exported reached 421,700 tonnes (t), an annual increase of 10.2%.

The corresponding data for lamb and mutton shows a 2% volume decline for lamb and an 8.8% volume decline for mutton to 295,800t and 85,300t respectively. The value of the lamb export market was NZ$2.55bn, up 1.3%, while the value of the mutton market declined 9% to NZ $445m.

The growth in beef exports reflected an increase in both shipments (+10%) and average value (+26%). Driven by high beef prices, mainly due to strong US demand and low dairy prices, NZ beef production increased significantly in 2014-15. Beef exports averaged NZ$7,510/t in 2014-15 compared with NZ$5,970/t in the previous season. In the 35 years since records have been kept, the average value of NZ beef exports has not exceeded NZ $6,000/t, the report stated.

Largest export markets

Demand for NZ beef was particularly strong in North America and North Asia, where exports increased by 22% and 7% respectively, while shipments to every other region declined. The two largest export markets were the US and China. While the US has traditionally been the largest market for NZ beef exports, China became the country’s second-largest market three years ago.

Despite an increase in lamb production in the 2014-15 season, NZ lamb exports were down 2%. However, this was offset by a rise in the average value of lamb exports (+3.4%). In 2014-15, half of the lamb returns were achieved in the EU, while North Asia, the second-largest export region, accounted for 21% of lamb export returns.

After doubling over the previous five years, NZ lamb shipments to North Asia decreased by 12% in 2014-15. This was due to more product being exported to other markets, the market report explained.

After two years of tremendous growth in mutton, exports to North Asia, shipments to the region fell by 23% in 2014-15. This was due to a drop in export volumes of mutton carcases, which accounted for 22% of mutton shipments to North Asia, down from 41% in 2013-14.

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