North America still the top destination for NZ red meat

North America remained New Zealand’s largest red meat market during May and beef and sheepmeat exports to nearly all major markets increased year-on-year, the Meat Industry Association says.

However, demand from China was subdued with exports down 42% in May, compared to the same month last year.

New Zealand exported red meat products worth $1.1 billion for the month, 3% up on May 2023. The most significant growth was in beef exports, up 5% in volume and 9% by value.

Overall exports included $358 million to the United States, up 28%. May was a record month for the value of beef exports to the United States.

Exports to Japan rose 96% to $72 million and the United Kingdom was up 51% to $62 million.

China was the second-largest market with exports of $232million. This is 42% down from May 2023.

MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva said it was encouraging to see some green shoots for the sector, supporting the Ministry for Primary Industries’ forecast trade would have a strong recovery next year.

"While the China market is still soft, the ability to shift products to other markets such as the United States means companies are continuing to extract the best value for product under the current global conditions."

The value of beef exports to the United States had been steadily increasing this year, from $8.33 per kg in January to $10.48 per kg in May. "This is good news for the industry and our farmers.

"The increased beef exports to Japan and the United Kingdom demonstrate the value of free-trade agreements as reduced tariffs improve the competitiveness of our products."

Sheepmeat exports totalled 39,232 tonnes, a 1% drop on last May, with value down 5% to $387 million.

This was mainly due to the decline in exports to China, down by 1% by volume to 15,499 tonnes and 49% by value to $84 million.

This appeared to be due to weak demand rather than an increase in supply from other exporters, as Australian sheepmeat exports to China have also been down over the last three months compared to last year.

Sheepmeat exports to most other major markets increased, compared to May 2023, with the US up 66% by volume to 3568 tonnes and 31% by value to $66 million.

Exports to the UK continued to recover, up 40% by volume, to 5392 tonnes and 34% by value to $51 million.

Exports to the European Union were also strong, up 23% by volume to 7085 tonnes and 15% by value to $113 million.

The US led the way with the highest free on board value for sheepmeat at $18.39/kg, followed by the European Union at $15.95/kg, the UK at $9.44/kg and China at $5.43/kg.

The volume of sheepmeat to China was significantly greater but the higher value achieved in the US put the two markets relatively close, with China accounting for 22% of sheepmeat exports by value and the United States 17%.


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