National Lamb Day: How the sheep sector is performing in New Zealand

By Ashley Williams contact

- Last updated on GMT

National Lamb Day marks the first shipment of frozen sheep from New Zealand to London
National Lamb Day marks the first shipment of frozen sheep from New Zealand to London
Today (24 May) marks National Lamb Day across New Zealand, celebrating an historic achievement in the Kiwi sheep sector.

National Lamb Day, which has been organised by Beef + Lamb New Zealand, remembers a momentous milestone, where the first shipment of frozen sheep meat was distributed from Port Chalmers in Otago on the 15 February 1882 to London by entrepreneurs Thomas Brydone and William Davidson.

The 5,000 sheep carcases arrived in London 98 days later on the 24 May, which was regarded as an important accomplishment, as many believed it was not possible to have a thriving meat export business.

As part of National Lamb Day, GlobalMeatNews​ analyses how the sheep sector is performing in terms of exports and volume.

According to GlobalMeatNews​’ State of the Industry​ report, 2017 was a tough year for sheep exports from New Zealand.

New Zealand exports of sheep meat, beef and co-products were worth NZ$7 billion in the year ended 30 June 2017, $600 million (m) less than in the previous 12 months.

There was also a decline in the value of sheep meat exports from New Zealand, down by $130m year-on-year. Exports to the UK were one of the main drivers of this decline, with volumes way down.

The New Zealand sheep meat industry exported to 122 countries during the 12-month period, with 17 countries taking exports worth more than $100m. Two countries accounted for exports of more than $1bn, the US ($1.59bn), and China ($1.44bn).

However, since the beginning of 2018, sheep exports from New Zealand appear to be on the up. Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s mid-season update revealed that rising lamb export prices are expected to result in forecast profits surpassing the $3bn mark for the first time.

Meanwhile, efforts are being made to support sheep farmers across New Zealand by reducing the environmental issues they allegedly cause.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand revealed an environment strategy designed to result in every sheep and beef farm having a tailored and active environment plan by the end of 2021 – and the sheep and beef sector as a whole moving towards carbon neutrality by 2050.

The opening of negotiations for free trade agreements between Europe, Australia and New Zealand could also have an impact on the sheep sector, which Beef + Lamb NZ chief executive Sam McIvor said was “crucial to the growth and future prosperity of the sheep and beef sector​”.

To find out further information on the New Zealand sheep sector, you can purchase our GlobalMeatNews​ report here​.

Related topics: Markets, Meat

Related news

Show more

Follow us


View more


Food & Beverage Trailblazers

F&B Trailblazers Podcast